Florida law making gun carry permits optional leads to dramatic drop in safety classes
Image via Fresh Take Florida.

092023 Gun Laws AH 01
'It’s better to hear these things in a classroom than a courtroom.'

Floridians no longer need a permit to carry a concealed firearm, and gun owners are overwhelmingly opting out of the safety and educational training once required for a license.

Firearms instructors are seeing a dramatic drop in student sign-ups for such courses, which teach safety and explain the state’s laws about where and how gun owners can lawfully carry pistols and legally use them in self defense.

As more people forgo basic safety and legal training, instructors say they’re concerned about the safety of communities — and the impacts to their businesses.

After the new state law went into effect, the number of people who applied for concealed carry permits — which are now optional and include hourslong classes on safety and legal issues — dropped by about 64% over the same three-month period a year ago. There are about 2.5 million people in Florida with concealed carry permits, according to state figures.

Besides the safety classes, advantages of having a permit in Florida allow gun buyers to avoid the three-day waiting period before they can pick up their new guns and carry their guns when traveling in states that recognize Florida’s permits as valid. The initial cost for a permit is about $100, including fingerprinting. Felons and anyone under 21 can’t carry a concealed weapon legally even under the new law.

Simon Foster of Lake Butler is a new gun owner who received his permit in November 2022. He believes there shouldn’t be mandated training, but if he were to buy his first gun today, he would receive training anyway, he said.

“I’m not only a Black man, but a Black immigrant, so I would still get it because of the optics,” said Foster, 39, who is from Jamaica. “When people see a Black man with a gun, they think, ‘He’s a criminal.’ If I ever had contact with law enforcement for a self-defense situation, I’d be better off with a permit.”

Foster wasn’t always a fan of guns, however. He used to think they were impersonal and dangerous. In Jamaica, the laws are much stricter, and the only people he saw with guns were criminals, he said.

That changed when he immigrated to the United States in 2018.

“I started thinking to myself, ‘Firearms are part of this country’s culture. They’re not going anywhere, so I should at least educate myself on them,’” he said. “Now I like them enough that they get me in trouble with my wife.”

Even as the number of applicants for concealed carry permits fell after the new Florida law, gun sales have also dropped dramatically. The number of background checks for gun purchases in Florida since July 1 dropped 15% over the same period a year earlier and were 21% lower than during the same period in 2021. Those background checks do not perfectly correlate with the number of firearms sold but are the best barometer of sales available. Some buyers purchase multiple guns, accounting for a single background check, and others are disqualified after checks from buying.

Foster was trained by Mike Weeks, 52, owner of 2A Tactical and Training, who teaches eight-hour classes on his 11-acre property in Lake Butler, 25 miles north of Gainesville. His students learn gun law and safety and must fire a minimum of 50 rounds of live ammo. He used to teach full weekends every four weeks, but after July 1, he can only fill classes every four months.

“I used to have a waiting list. Now they tell me, ‘I don’t need training anymore, but I appreciate you calling me,’” Weeks said. “It’s hard not to sound like you’re trying to sell them something. So I try to frame it as, ‘You still need training, if it’s from me or someone else.’”

The business was intended to sustain him and his family after he retires from his full-time job at Gainesville Regional Utilities. But after the bill, he doesn’t foresee growing the business, let alone leaning on it through retirement.

Concerns about gun violence inspired Doc Nguyen of Homefront Tactical in Jacksonville to teach gun safety, and he used to host classes of about a dozen students.

After a while, he became disturbed by the number of people he turned away who “sat through a class and didn’t want to learn.” The idea of these individuals carrying concealed weapons with his name on their certificates made him uncomfortable, and he considered closing, he said.

“But once I heard the news about the bill, it was like writing on the wall,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s gonna do much more harm than good.”

Nguyen, 41, shut down in April before the law’s enactment. Now, he designs military curricula.

Brian Doyle, 56, is president of Direct Hit Firearms Training in Pompano Beach, and he also is worried about guns in the hands of untrained users.

“I’m disheartened that people don’t want to be educated —and that’s what the state is telling them: that they don’t need to be educated to carry a firearm,” Doyle said.

He doesn’t predict a rise in violent crime associated with the bill, but he is concerned about a bump in preventable mistakes by law-abiding citizens, which can ruin someone’s record, open them up to lawsuits and — in some cases — involve someone dying.

Doyle regularly teaches students with court orders from the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to take his class in exchange for reduced firearm negligence charges. Most of these students mistakenly carry their weapons into the airport.

“I’m a Second Amendment guy — I get it,” Doyle said. “But if you’re one of my clients and you come back to me with a court order because you broke the law, I’m not going to be happy.”

His classes are designed to understand Florida law: what, where, when, and how to carry concealed. And like many instructors, he’s seen a dip in attendance. Before the law changed, Doyle used to teach weekly classes of a dozen students. Now he teaches about six students every other week.

“We see a lot of people who say, ‘I’ve been around guns all my life,’ but then they realize how much they don’t know,” he said.

Having a permit can help even if someone breaks the law: If someone is found carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, having a concealed carry permit could bump a felony charge down to a misdemeanor.

“This law is almost a trick. It makes people think there’s no reason to get a permit,” said Christian Perez, 29, head instructor for Florida Defensive Training with locations around South Florida.

Perez teaches both law enforcement and civilian classes, and prior to July 1, he oversaw a civilian class of around 70 students. Now, he fills about 20 seats. Those who remain are the most motivated and eager to learn — some of them victims of violence or harassment, Perez said.

“There were many students who didn’t care and only took the class because the state made them, but some education is better than none,” Perez said. “It’s better to hear these things in a classroom than a courtroom.”

For one of Perez’s students, Phillip Peterson, the training may have saved his daughter’s life.

Peterson and his wife felt vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they decided to put themselves and their two children through Florida Defensive Training courses.

“The training ended up protecting my daughter after a close call in a parking lot,” he said. A man approached his daughter’s car and cornered her as she tried to drive away. “From her training, she knew to protect herself and not to freeze up.”


This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]. You can donate to support our students here.

Fresh Take Florida



    November 1, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    1.) Purchase a new firearm of your choice
    2.) Read the owners manual that has always been included from the manufacture.
    3.) That’s it. Congrats you are trained.

  • Tom

    November 1, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    And yet rhonda gets a metal detector everywhere he goes while we get an increased risk of being shot by some clown running around with a gun – thanks rhonda you a-hole.

    • Rich7553

      November 1, 2023 at 3:55 pm

      Your problem is with the Bill of Rights, not the Governor.

      • Joe

        November 1, 2023 at 4:57 pm

        More like the NRA and its paid lackeys on the current Supreme Court.

      • Dont Say FLA

        November 15, 2023 at 10:03 am

        What is the Trump Campaing’s plan for a version of the 2nd Amendment in Trumplandia should he win and become Supreme Leader of USA?

        2A and the remainder of the Bill of Rights are in the US Constitution. In Trumplandia, there’s no guarantees Trump won’t be coming for our guns. Newly empowered (ie weak and unestablished) autocrats typically do collect all the guns, first thing, even from the folks that helped place them in power.

        Why do dicatorial types confiscate guns from their own helpful supporters once they’ve gained the power they sought? That’s one is easy. The history books are full of answers, but I’ll explain.

        It’s becuase the supporters are people who take action, rather than people who slap “2A 4EVA” and “USA” bumper stickers on their pick up trucks while also working a side job to end the USA.

    • Michael K

      November 1, 2023 at 4:25 pm

      And the cowards in the state legislature and our governor have flooded our communities with guns, guns, guns, and hide behind their bullet-proof windows and gated communities.

      The gun manufacturers own what is left of the Republican party. Every mass murder is simply the price we are forced to pay for unfettered access to weapons of death.

  • PeterH

    November 1, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    As expected! The new legislation encourages unregulated gun ownership!

    • Rich7553

      November 1, 2023 at 3:55 pm

      We call that an enumerated right, incorporated against the states under the 14th Amendment due process clause.

      • WhatNow

        November 1, 2023 at 4:56 pm

        *I* call it sheer stupidity.

      • Joe

        November 1, 2023 at 4:58 pm

        Now here’s a guy who learned everything he knows about “The Constitution” from right-wing media.

      • Rick Whitaker

        November 1, 2023 at 9:04 pm

        gun lovers are pricks

  • My Take

    November 1, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    Republicans — evil or insane?
    Unfit to govern a modern civilized society.
    May for those northern Idaho “Aryan hill tribes” in their compounds.

    • Rich7553

      November 1, 2023 at 3:59 pm

      Funny you should mention Aryan. Hitler loved the legal authority to decide who could and couldn’t posess firearms, property, businesses, homes, valuables, and finally their very lives.

      • My Take

        November 1, 2023 at 6:46 pm

        The constitition has no guarantee ofconcealed carry.
        “Right to bear” doesn’t even necessarily covèr pistols.
        I wonder, dòes the NRA oppose banning of “sawed off” shotguns.

      • Rick Whitaker

        November 1, 2023 at 9:07 pm

        gun lovers are pricks

    • WhatNow

      November 1, 2023 at 4:57 pm

      Insanely evil. They are not mutually exclusive, especially in these regards.

    • Dont Say FLA

      November 15, 2023 at 10:08 am

      Northern Idaho excised those morons 20-ish years ago. Coeur D’Alene is a rich liberal lake resort town these days. Sandpoint isn’t what I would call liberal, yet, but it’s defnitely not Aryan compounds anymore. Of all the little dipsticks in that UHaul full of dipsticks that got arrested last year for trying to attack the pride fesitval in CD’A, exactly zero were locals.

  • Rich7553

    November 1, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    Okay firearms imstructors, riddle me this – what provision of FL statutory law requires, demands, requests, or even hints that your instruction includes law? If you read 790.06 Fla. Stat., you’ll find the only thing you certify is that you witnessed the applicant safely handle a firearm. In fact, you’re not qualified to teach law. The CWFL application places the burden of knowing the law solely on the applicant, by sworn statement.

    • Rick Whitaker

      November 1, 2023 at 9:05 pm

      gun lovers are pricks

    • It's Complicated

      November 10, 2023 at 10:16 am

      Rich – The silence in Florida Statutes regarding teaching the gun law aspect of firearms ownership and use is interesting. I looked at the NRA Certified Trainer standards, and didn’t see it there, either (one of several training certification standards referenced in s. 790.06 FS).

      As a long-time prick – having been a long gun and handgun prick for 35-years before taking the concealed carry course, the ONLY value I found in taking the course was the law portions, the scenario examples, and the Q&A that accompanied it (taught by a former LEO). I think it is safe to say that most people do not understand Self Defense, Castle Doctrine, or Stand Your Ground laws, believing it is somehow a general license to kill.

      • Dont say FLA

        November 15, 2023 at 10:13 am

        State mandated gun safety courses got hijacked long ago and are more like timeshare sales spiels for this and that. They are 90% worthless unless you want to buy into whichever worthless “gun lawyer” club they’re selling, lol. I strongly prefer and advocate for voluntary firearm safety and firearm usage training. If anything should be legally required of gun owners, it’s a gun safe to keep their gun(s) in, and when their gun(s) turn up missing (stolen) due to not having been stored safely, there should be a substantial penalty the first time, let’s say 5x the MSRP of the stolen gun at its highest value. Second time (not a 2nd gun, but for any gun stolen again at a later date from somebody who had a gun or guns stolen previous occasion)? Prison for the irresponsible gun owner.

  • WhatNow

    November 1, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    There’s nothing like going backwards to make us all LESS safe and secure! Lets increase those Florida death-by-gunshot stats, folks!

  • Michael K

    November 1, 2023 at 9:15 pm

    Who needs training? The more gun$ the better for the gun maker$ and $eller$ – and really, that’s all that matter$. The Second Amendment has been perverted beyond recognition by the Supreme Court and a Republican party fully owned by the NRA. Marco Rubio, for example, has been bought off for $3.3 million by the NRA

    • Dont Say FLA

      November 15, 2023 at 10:18 am

      The more gun$ thebetter for the gun maker$ and $eller$ – That’s exactly right. That is why the border with Mexico is a sieve. It’s for gun exports (cheap labor imports are just a bonus). That’s also why profits on 2A protected guns and ammo and related should be outlawed for sales to private US Citizens. Being required to help Mr Glock make his monthly yacht payment when I want to buy a new 9mm, that inhibits my right to bear arms. Paying one cent more than cost for 2A items, that is clear infringement. Let the 2A industry’s blood money profits come from the military and foreigners, not from US citizens protected by 2A.

  • Earl Pitts American

    November 2, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Good mornting America,
    The first comment, the one at the top of the stack, was great…made alot of sense…and was the way training has been handled fou over 100 years.
    Then as we move down the stack we see one after another Dook 4 Brains lefty totally talking nonsense.
    Then we come to this posting of sage wisdom.
    Hey folks ya know what both of the sage wisdom postings were made by the same great guy!!!
    Thank you America,

    *Queue excedingly LOUD Patriotic music to further annoy all Dook 4 Brains Lefyys*


    • Rick Whitaker

      November 5, 2023 at 9:59 am


    • Rick Whitaker

      November 7, 2023 at 8:55 am


  • My Take

    November 2, 2023 at 10:20 pm

    Why would the following limits not still honor the Second Amendment?
    Rifle or shotgun OK Pistol OK
    5 round magazine limit; a few more for inside standad handles of (semi) auto pistols.
    No clip magazines. Make everything top loaders except for law enforcement.
    Modern wars have been fought with these (albeit thh pistols had clips). They are plenty capable.

Comments are closed.


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