Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promised Friday that the state will have a “constitutional carry” law at some point before he leaves office. The measure would most likely allow Floridians to carry firearms without a permit or required safety training.
“I can’t tell you exactly when, but I’m pretty confident that I will be able to sign ‘constitutional carry’ into law in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Williston, Fla., according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“The Legislature will get it done. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you that before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill.”
Constitutional carry, also called permitless carry or unrestricted carry, is a policy that allows citizens to carry weapons without a government-issued permit. Supporters often argue that the policy simply enshrines existing rights under the Second Amendment. Those who wish to still obtain a permit can do so under the initiative.
Under current law, Florida residents must obtain a license to carry a concealed gun. Eligibility includes proof of competency with a firearm.
DeSantis, widely viewed as a leading Republican presidential candidate in 2024, has been burnishing his conservative credentials in recent months with a series of high-profile battles touching on race and gay rights issues, among others.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried oversees the state’s concealed weapons permits and sharply criticized the move as political. Fried is Florida’s lone statewide Democrat and is among her party’s candidates hoping to unseat DeSantis in this year’s gubernatorial election.
“This is absurd political pandering from the Governor of a state that has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history and in a nation where we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world,” Fried said in a statement, alluding to the mass shootings at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were killed in 2016, and the Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in 2018.
“It’s an insult [to] the memories and families of every victim of gun violence,” Fried further charged. “We should be passing laws to prevent gun violence and working to fix our state’s affordable housing crisis, not creating chaos to score political points.”
Although cheered by gun-rights activists, many law enforcement officials have warned about reducing the requirements to own and carry firearms.
As Ohio debated similar legislation earlier this year, ABC News spoke to Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey of Hamilton County in Ohio, who spoke out against the bill. The law, which Gov. Mike DeWine signed in March, also removes the requirement to “promptly” notify police of a firearm during an official stop unless asked.
"To allow people to carry concealed with no background check, no documentation of who they are and no training is dangerous," McGuffey told ABC News. "I am not against the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms. What I'm asking people to do is consider that there must be some failsafe placed into the system."
According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, 25 states have passed constitutional carry laws, and the organization touts its gun activism for many of the policies on the books.
Georgia became the latest state to pass a similar law when Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act on April 12. In March, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law that eliminates the license requirement for carrying a handgun in his state.