‘A false narrative’: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell challenges validity of Florida constitutional carry bill

mucarsel powell
'We know open carry laws, like what we’ve seen in Texas, make communities less safe.'

Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has dismissed a “constitutional carry” bill now moving through the Florida Legislature as trafficking in a “false narrative” that will make the Sunshine State less safe.

The bill (HB 103), sponsored by Howey-in-the-Hills Republican Anthony Sabatini, would lift the requirement that a person in Florida obtain a concealed weapon license to carry a gun on their person hidden from plain view.

Instead, the bill would allow for the open or concealed carrying of a handgun without a permit, reflecting the view that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution itself is a citizen’s license to carry a firearm.

Mucarsel-Powell, a senior adviser to gun control advocacy group Giffords Courage, told Florida Politics that view is flawed in its constitutional interpretation and dangerous in practice.

“It’s a false narrative when you use constitutional, open carry — a marketing word that’s being used so people think they have the constitutional right. That’s just not true,” she said Monday after the unveiling of a gun violence memorial in Miami. “We know open carry laws, like what we’ve seen in Texas, make communities less safe. When you have more guns on the street, it can escalate to more violence in the street.”

To what degree the Second Amendment applies to carrying guns in public, either concealed or out in the open, remains open for debate. In 2008, the Supreme Court established by a 5-4 vote an individual right to own firearms. The District of Columbia v. Heller ruling addressed only the right for a person to keep guns in their homes for self-defense, but left open the possibility for gun regulations. Among them: “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.

Florida’s concealed carry permitting rules mandate a person take a gun safety course and pass background checks before being allowed to carry a weapon under their clothes, in a bag or some other out-of-sight place.

Constitutional carry — also known as “unrestricted carry” and “permitless carry” — removes that requirement, allowing people who have received no training to bring firearms with them in most places.

Five states have passed “constitutional carry” laws this year, bringing the total to 21, according to Legislation for Florida Gun Rights. The group’s director, Matt Collins, said in September Florida is “currently behind when it comes to gun rights.”

Sabatini expressed a similar opinion the same month.

“This Bill eliminates the unconstitutional ‘permit’ program which requires law abiding Florida citizens to ask the government for permission to pay money before carrying a firearm — it also allows for Open Carry,” he wrote on Twitter Sept. 15, when he refiled the bill.

Sabatini has filed the bill since his election to the House in 2018. Republican leadership has never scheduled it for a committee hearing. The current version, which Sabatini filed Sept. 15, awaits hearings in the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice and Public Safety, Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations, and Criminal Justice and Public Safety subcommittees.

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated he would sign Sabatini’s bill into law if it reached his desk. In a video shared by the National Association for Gun Rights, DeSantis said, “Of course,” when asked if he would sign the bill.

That’s troublesome Mucarsel-Powell said, adding that DeSantis’ comments — as well as a “semi-formal endorsement” from U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado — indicate the Governor’s political leanings have shifted rightward.

“I’m really concerned,” she said. “I feel like we’ve lost our Governor to the most extreme wing of the Republican Party, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he does sign that into law.”


Florida Politics reporters Renzo Downey and Jason Delgado contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Alex

    December 14, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I can see the daily headlines now – “Florida Man shoots, kills shopper in Walmart for taking the last camouflage baseball cap”

    • Richard Nascak

      December 14, 2021 at 8:21 pm

      In your imagination, I’m quite sure you see all kinds of things that don’t exist.

      • Alex

        December 14, 2021 at 10:49 pm


        I haven’t ever met a 2A fan that can think past “muh rights”

        • Chris

          December 18, 2021 at 11:32 am

          Considering that more than 10% of the population has Concealed Carry Permits, and Florida is likely on the higher side, you undoubtedly have “met” an awful lot of 2A fans but never realized it because they are some of your most law-abiding citizens.

    • Chris

      December 20, 2021 at 11:17 am

      Since 21 states already have Constitutional Carry and it isn’t a return to the “wild west” as unhinged anti-gun libs would scare you into believing, you can say with confidence that nothing “remarkable” will happen when Constitutional Carry passes in Florida.

  • Nope

    December 14, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    It is our God given right, as U.S. citizens to bear arms, in order to protect our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness from tyranny, both foreign and domestic. These rights shall not be infringed. It seems little Miss High Horse would rather slander our governor for being a radical, because the thought of Constitutional Rights doesn’t fit her authoritarian agenda. That’s a huge red flag.

    • Alex

      December 14, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      I think you need to read Heller, because practically nothing you said is true.

    • Phil Morton

      December 15, 2021 at 6:15 am

      God didn’t give you the right to bear arms. God is love. You might need to check your bible and your constitution.

      • Bobby

        December 15, 2021 at 8:41 am

        Phil. Good also said to sell your cloak and by a sword. God is about live but he also told us to protect ourselves.

        • Alex

          December 15, 2021 at 11:13 pm

          That was actually Jesus, and he was intent on fulfilling the prophecy that he be accused of being a criminal, sentenced to death, so he could rise.

          And it was two swords, and there was no possible way two swords could prevent his arrest, but was enough to prove he was a criminal.

          And when Peter pulled one out and cut the ear of one of the arrestors, Jesus commanded him to put it away, saying;

          “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”(Matthew 26:52)

          So no, it doesn’t mean what you think

  • Bill

    December 14, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    “In 2008, the Supreme Court established by a 5-4 vote an individual right to own firearms.”

    Uh, the Supreme Court did no such thing. It AFFIRMED, not established, the individual right to own firearms.

    • Alex

      December 14, 2021 at 5:22 pm

      Please point to me any court decision prior that established such as a primary holding.

      You can’t, because it didn’t happen.

      • Bobby

        December 15, 2021 at 8:46 am

        I believe this was ratified in 1791. It is called the 2nd amendment so it is law

        • Alex

          December 15, 2021 at 11:50 pm

          The Constitution isn’t law, that’s for Congress.

          And before a right/principle can be used in a legal setting, it must be recognized by a court because so many times folks were wrong.

          Dredd Scott being my favorite.

          So yes, I am correct.

      • Evan

        December 15, 2021 at 12:54 pm

        I always carry two weapons where every I go. You would rather sit and have a group discussion. I am guessing you have never had to look an insurgent in the eye and fire your weapon to save a fellow brother. You sit in comfort of mommy’s spare bedroom.

        • Alex

          December 15, 2021 at 2:16 pm

          Now tell us you’re a billionaire genius astronaut who eats nails for breakfast and runs a 4 minute mile, in combat boots.


  • Fred

    December 14, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Self protection is a fundamental right inherit in every person. By extension, the rights to acquire, possess, and carry effective means of self protection are fundamental. This will remain true regardless of the opinion of the Supreme Court, which has been wrong regarding rights all too often.

    Firearm prohibitionists always claim that any step toward respecting our rights to be armed will “lead to blood in the streets” by it is those jurisdictions with the tightest restrictions which frequently suffer the greatest amount of violence.

    • Alex

      December 15, 2021 at 5:26 pm

      Too bad it’s a statistical fact across SMA’s, States, and entire Countries, where there are more guns, there are more homicides.

      More guns = more murders

      • Atomic Hillbilly

        December 27, 2021 at 12:22 am

        Actually, statistics show that if gun crimes committed in the 10 largest democrat cities were eliminated from the statistics, America’s gun violence statistics would be on par with countries like Japan.

        Guns don’t cause gun crimes, democrats cause gun crimes.
        The statistics prove it.

  • Brad

    December 15, 2021 at 11:18 am

    First of all, Commies, the Constitution doesn’t grant us any right. The Constitution limits the power of the government to infringe or otherwise interfere with our freedoms. Period.

    Now if any of you can actually understand statistics, then it’d be easy for you to figure out that no state that allows law abiding citizens to carry a weapon for self defense is less safe. Quite the contrary. So if you’re afraid of law abiding citizens carrying a weapon. Grow a pair and stop being such a puss.

    • Alex

      December 15, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      I stopped reading at Commies.

  • Atomic Hillbilly

    December 27, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Think about how many people are moving to Florida by the tens of thousands these days…

    They aren’t moving here because it’s a bastion of leftardism.
    They’re all going to tip the scale towards conservative values, and constitutional carry is just the beginning….

    God bless the great state of Florida.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn