Good luck out there, Florida. Gun safety classes drop after permitless carry law | Opinion

It was as inevitable as it is scary.

Floridians no longer need a permit to carry a concealed firearm, thanks to the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis. And so what happened? Firearms instructors now report they see a big drop in people taking gun safety classes, according to a story published by the Miami Herald and Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Hard not to see this one coming. Applications for concealed gun permits, optional as of July 1, have fallen by about 64%, compared to the same three months a year ago, the story notes. And so have applications for gun safety classes, an alarming development in a state where “Florida man” has already given us a top spot in any listing of the ridiculous or out-of-control.

Before the Legislature, doing presidential candidate DeSantis’ bidding, stepped in, you had to take hours-long classes on safety and legal issues to get a permit. No more! And Floridians are apparently taking full advantage of the change.

Why educate yourself about gun safety or pesky details like state laws on where gun owners can lawfully carry pistols and how? Or — here’s a good one — why bother to figure out how to legally use your concealed gun in self-defense? It’s much easier to carry and worry about the consequences later.

Who cares that the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office offered a gun safety class on July 22 after 12 people had shot themselves accidentally since the beginning of the year “cleaning their gun, adjusting their gun in their waistband, sitting in a chair watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and twirling it,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Besides safety training, though, permits are also good for a few other things. For example, they allow gun owners to carry when traveling in states that recognize Florida’s permits. One other thing to note: Felons and those under 21 still can’t legally carry a concealed weapon under the new law.

And yes, the firearms instructors in the story probably have a vested interest when they are raising the alarm about the drop in safety classes — some even said their business model has fallen apart — but they are also right. The last thing we need in Florida is more people carrying guns without the slightest clue about what it takes to be a responsible gun owner.

Some gun owners will no doubt continue to take classes — the ones with a conscience and a flicker of good sense. But in the “Free Florida” of DeSantis and the Legislature, it’s no longer required — even though the state Capitol building in Tallahassee is getting new, bulletproof windows, a $61.6 million window replacement project legislators approved in 2019. At least they will be relatively safe.

As for everyone else, this means the very people who need gun training the most will probably opt out. Good luck to us all.

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