Governor Ron DeSantis has signed HB 259, Florida’s Church Carry bill, into law. That means religious institutions in the Sunshine State are no longer automatically designated gun-free zones if they offer daycare services, run a parochial school, or rent/lease space from a school to hold services.
Religious institutions are now free to make the choice of letting congregants carry concealed firearms on their own if they wish.
We at Gun Owners of America felt that Florida’s lawmakers could have done much more than what was offered in the final bill. While we supported this bill and fought for its passage, the legislative leadership has been a letdown to Florida’s gun owners. There were solid pro-gun bills like Constitutional Carry (HB 123), and they did not allow that bill to advance.
Florida has 102 Republicans holding a supermajority in the legislature but the state is in a bad spot at the moment in regard to the advancement of gun rights.
Alas, it took over sixty days for the Legislature to send even such a common sense bill as HB 259 to the Governor’s desk. And even that took years to finally make it through the legislature.
By contrast, Texas pushed constitutional carry and a legitimate Second Amendment sanctuary bill through their legislature, and got them to their governor’s desk in the just-ended session. The Lone Star State even passed a bill that says Texas-made suppressors do not fall under the purview of the ATF and the National Firearms Act.
Florida has more Republican lawmakers in office per capita than Texas does. One would expect more from our legislature. But Florida’s Republican lawmakers were unable to pass constitutional carry through its first committee hearing, let alone get the bill to the full House or Senate.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini said he will reintroduce constitutional carry this coming legislative session.
Florida’s gun owners need to be loud and vocal about their desire for improvements in the state’s gun laws. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So far, we’ve been squeaking, but getting getting very little grease.
I take the church carry law as it is…a small but important victory. But much of the fight to defend and extend gun rights in what was once known as The Gunshine State still lies ahead.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.