Giffords blasts Florida GOP for scheduling permitless gun carry hearing close to five-year mark of Parkland shooting
A woman places flowers at one of 17 crosses placed for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland.

school shooting protest
The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High prompted the Florida Legislature to pass major gun safety reforms in 2018. Things are now heading in the opposite direction.

Gun violence prevention group Giffords is blasting Republican lawmakers in Florida for their timing of a hearing on legislation to allow concealed carrying of a firearm without a permit.

Tuesday marks five years since a gunman murdered 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. On Monday, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo scheduled the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to take up a bill (SB 150) on Feb. 20 eliminating the license requirement for Floridians to carry a concealed firearm.

“Instead of working to address gun violence in the state, Florida Senate Republicans introduced dangerous legislation that will drive gun violence up and further jeopardize the safety of our families and communities,” Giffords Florida senior adviser and former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement.

The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High prompted the Florida Legislature in 2018 to pass major gun reforms for the first time in decades, including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extending the waiting period.

Things are now heading in the opposite direction, as evidenced by SB 150, sponsored by Republican Sen. Jay Collins, and a similar measure (HB 543) by Republican Reps. Chuck Brannan and Bobby Payne that last week cleared the first of three committees to which House Speaker Paul Renner assigned it.

Collins’ bill and its House analogue both aim to get rid of the concealed carry license requirement. In doing so, the change would also remove the need for prerequisite background checks, fingerprinting, firearm safety training and a $97 fee for first-time concealed carry applicants.

The Senate version, titled “Public Safety,” features additional language to create a standardized process for handling threatening student behavior, an online threat-reporting portal and more allowances for school district and private school employees to carry concealed guns on campus. It would also establish a new program placing gun-sniffing dogs at certain K-12 schools.

Passidomo, who initially proposed asking voters to decide whether to eliminate the need for a concealed weapons permit, called SB 150 a “robust public safety package” balancing public safety with personal liberty.

“This comprehensive legislation ensures our laws respect the constitutional rights of law-abiding Floridians while at the same time incorporating valuable tools recommended by law enforcement that will increase the safety of our schools and communities,” she said in a statement Feb. 9, when Collins filed the bill.

Removing a barrier to the concealed possession of a deadly weapon is the opposite of gun-safe legislation, argued Mucarsel-Powell, who lost her father to gun violence in Ecuador two decades ago.

“My family came to the United States, as so many Floridians did, to find a safer place to raise our children,” she said. “This ‘no questions asked’ permitless carry bill will endanger Florida’s children. We must come together and make our voices heard.”

Recent polling Giffords conducted indicates Floridians aren’t keen on the idea of their state joining 25 other states with some form of permitless carry law.

Giffords — named for former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who in 2011 was shot in the head by a crazed gunman — released the results of a survey in September that found 61% of voters in the state oppose the move. That includes more than two-thirds of voters in Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county, where 71% of Democratic respondents and 65% of registered Republicans and independent voters said no to no-permit carry.

A 2017 study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that weakened public carry laws are associated with a 13-15% uptick in violent crime rates and an 11% increase in gun homicides.

GVPedia, a research group that studies and compiles data on gun violence, found states suffered a 22% rise in gun homicides for the three years following the passage of a permitless carry law — more than double the 10% increase for the country overall.

About 2.5 million Floridians have concealed weapons permits. Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services rejected 7,605 concealed carry applications.


Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Senate Criminal Justice Committee would hear SB 150 at its Feb. 14 meeting.

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.


  • Peggy

    February 13, 2023 at 7:52 pm

    School shootings are basically religious holidays now for the wacko Right Wing.

    Parkland, Uvalde, Columbine, Sandy Hook. All of them are right up there with Easter & Christmas for these ghouls.

    • Rich7553

      February 13, 2023 at 9:17 pm

      If that’s so, it’s because they are a direct result of Saint Joe’s Gun Free School Zones Act, and Lord Barack’s Promise Program. Hard to claim it’s right-wing religion when both the altar and church were built by Democrats.

      • cassandra

        February 13, 2023 at 10:31 pm

        Do you have a citation for that? If you are referring to the ‘good guy with a gun’, there was one at Parkland—-and four hundred at Uvalde.

        • Billy Rotberg

          February 14, 2023 at 9:21 am

          Everyone except you knows about Scott Isreal, the coward of Broward. Uvalde also had a Democrat Sherriff. So called gun free zones or schools Don’t deter mass shooters. Get a clue!

          • cassandra

            February 14, 2023 at 10:53 am

            Do you actually think I care what party these people are from? The point is that multiple good guys with guns didn’t save one single child. And, I’m sure that before the shootings all the armed cops involved had always thought (like you?) that they would be the one to stop the bad guy.

            BTW: Just facts; not even an opinion on gun control..

        • Billy Rotberg

          February 14, 2023 at 12:59 pm

          Naturally you don’t care about facts. Muh good guy with a gun comment tells me all I need to know about you. BTW, they waited outside because they were cowards, not good guys. Funny how politicians and rich actor’s children never have shootings at their schools. Do you know why? Because they are protected, by people, with guns! Not sitting ducks.

      • Billy Rotberg

        February 14, 2023 at 9:24 am

        Travon would still be alive today if the promise program never existed. These gun control pushers actually believe people who don’t fear murder charges obey no gun signs or laws.

        • Frank Taaffe

          February 23, 2023 at 8:36 pm

          Trayvon was a violent punk and got what he deserved Zim was getting beaten and stopped it with one shot to the heart I know I was there

    • cassandra

      February 13, 2023 at 11:14 pm

      DeSantis attacked and rejected the AP African-American Studies course two weeks after the one hundred year anniversary of the ‘Rosewood Massacre’ and a few days before MLK Day.

      DeSantis scheduled his Martha’s Vineyard flight stunt for the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.

      DeSantis is a pathetic little man, always hurting others because he envies them. That’s what his Drag Queen obsession is all about.

      • Billy Rotberg

        February 14, 2023 at 9:22 am

        Move somewhere else and never return. You’re ilk are a cancer on Florida.

        • cassandra

          February 14, 2023 at 11:44 am

          You move. You and Ron like nothing about Florida: AP courses, Disney, NewCollege, public schools, Free Speech, Free Market, Drag Queens, LGBTQ+ (especially trans girls), women and girls, Separation of Church and State, a ”woke” and compassionate society, accurate history, democracy…in fact Freedom itself.

          Come on, pack up “Meat Ball” and get out!

          • Billy Rotberg

            February 14, 2023 at 1:08 pm

            I’m not going ANYWHERE, Karen! Clearly IT IS YOU who has no clue about freedom. You don’t get to push your gender confusion on 5 year olds. You don’t get fascist gun control, You don’t get to use mob intimidation, bullying, doxxing and stalking which is the standard M.O. of BLM Antifa. You don’t get to block emergency traffic. Let’s be honest, That’s why you hate Ron, he opposes such things. You would be much happier in Portland so be on your way now. Best you leave before permitless carry becomes law.

        • Tjb

          February 14, 2023 at 11:52 am

          Billy, I would move to a red state but most red states have a much higher crime rate than those lead by Democratic’. Also, should we give DeSantis, the jester, credit for his support of the 17 dead, 17 injured at Douglas, when he flys the Flag at half mast? I am sure this gesture will prevent future massacres.

          • Billy Rotberg

            February 14, 2023 at 12:55 pm

            No, the shooter was bullied and the FBI admitted they “Dropped the ball”…Then there’s The coward of Broward’s ultimate failure. But hey! Who needs facts when you can just isolate one thing and do nothing about the rest. I can tell you are a liberal simce you have swallowed the Muh states deception. Now do a region by region breakdown by cities and counties and you will find BLUE areas have the most crime. The end.

          • Rich7553

            February 14, 2023 at 1:51 pm

            If you check, you’ll find that the red state crime is concentrated in blue cities.

Comments are closed.


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