Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted constitutional carry could be a potential battleground for the midterms, saying people will be eyeing the issue during the upcoming election cycle.
DeSantis on Tuesday reiterated his support for constitutional carry legislation, which would remove the need for Floridians to acquire a permit to carry an open or concealed firearm. Florida would join roughly two dozen other states, including Texas and Alabama, if he makes good on the promise.
The Governor’s comments come after he vowed on Friday to eventually sign permitless carry legislation. But first, the Legislature has to pass a constitutional carry bill.
“I’ve said for years, I would sign,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I don’t know if they have the votes now, but I know that this is something that a lot of people are going to be looking at as we go forward into this next election, so I would just say stay tuned on that.”
Constitutional carry is more consistent with what the Second Amendment is supposed to mean, DeSantis continued.
“The licensing scheme is kind of above that, and what it allows is people that want to take away your license, these officials, they can do that,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis’ comments came when a reporter in Fort Myers Beach asked the Republican Governor when to expect a potential Special Session on constitutional carry.
When DeSantis vetoed the Legislature’s first congressional maps, he mentioned his desire for lawmakers to address constitutional carry when they reconvened for a Special Session the following month. However, the Legislature did not address the subject then, and constitutional carry is not currently included in the call for an upcoming Special Session on property insurance.
DeSantis and candidates for all legislative and state-level offices will be on the ballot in November. Elevating Second Amendment issues could help Republicans turn out pro-gun rights members of their conservative base.
The Republican Governor spurred media buzz last year when he expressed support for constitutional carry in a passing remark during a private event at the Governor’s Mansion. The Governor’s Office later described the remark, though, as a “general statement.”
Florida — which some call the “Gunshine State” — is known for its residents’ affinity toward concealed carry permits. Nearly 2.5 million civilians hold concealed carry permits as of March 2022, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency charged with the administration of the license.
Howey-in-the-Hills Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, an outspoken conservative who has aligned himself with his party’s far right, has repeatedly filed legislation to enact constitutional carry without luck. Sabatini is running for Congress and won’t return to the Legislature next year, potentially clearing a path for Republican leadership — who have clashed with Sabatini and resisted giving him any legislative wins — to address constitutional carry.
Permitless carry proponents also face a potential hurdle in Florida’s sheriffs. A spokeswoman for the Florida Sheriffs Association said the group hasn’t discussed or taken a position on constitutional carry because no bills on the topic have moved in the legislative process. However, the Florida Sheriffs Association in the past has opposed open carry measures.