By Lee Williams
Every year Florida gun owners have watched our legislative sessions begin and end with barely a mention of the gold standard of gun rights – constitutional carry.
Every year we’ve sullenly said to ourselves maybe next session, or we’ll need to primary some of the opponents.
Every year the politicians responsible have skedaddled out of Tally the minute the gavel came down, claiming it wasn’t them who killed the only gun bill all of us really want, because everything else is merely window dressing.
Well, this year is different. This year, one man can change everything and restore what the framers had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment.
To be clear, Gov. Ron DeSantis can make Florida the 22nd constitutional carry state. If he wants the bill – if he makes it a priority – it will happen. Yes, he has that type of power. The governor’s critics have accused him of having a stranglehold on the legislature – an iron grip of sorts – and that he is the de facto Speaker, Senate President and Chief Justice all rolled into one.
Maybe now we can finally get something done. Maybe now we can finally get some traction. He certainly has the means. While the bill filing deadline has come and gone, there are several ways to get a constitutional-carry bill onto the governor’s desk if he asks for one. In other words, if the Governor requests a constitutional-carry bill, he will get one.
There are two theories about what DeSantis will do, and why. The first claims the governor will not push for a constitutional carry bill because he doesn’t need gun owners or our votes to be reelected. While it’s true that DeSantis will win in a landslide over his likely Democratic opponent, Nikki Fried, in my humble opinion this argument has no merit, because DeSantis has never been that type of self-centered politician.
For gun owners, Nikki is a hot mess. She is actively trying to neuter Florida’s preemption statute, which allows only the state legislature to regulate firearms. If she has her way, every municipality could make up their own anti-gun regulations, which would make lawful concealed carry nearly impossible.
Also, her stewardship of Florida’s concealed weapon and firearm licensing program has been abysmal. DeSantis could personally burn down Disney World, plow up the beaches and bulldoze Florida’s entire citrus crop and he would still beat her by at least 10 points. That’s why I subscribe to the second theory – DeSantis will request and sign a constitutional-carry bill because it’s the right thing to do.
Florida: “Senate President Wilton Simpson says he would support removing laws requiring a concealed-weapons permit to carry a gun if it comes to a vote.” https://t.co/Qu4bqRhpp8
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) January 20, 2022
The governor doesn’t appear interested in bigfooting the legislative process, at least not yet. He’ll likely let leadership have their back-and-forth with their members and the media, but I suspect we may see a request coming soon.
The session is nearly half over. We have never been this close before, so it would be tragic to waste such a valuable opportunity. Besides, when Florida becomes the 22nd Constitutional Carry state, it would certainly send another thumb-in-the-eye message to Joe Biden, who’s plotting how to violate our gun rights on a near daily basis. And we know our governor loves sending less-than-subtle messages to Joe.
I called and emailed the governor’s media staff, who didn’t immediately respond to my request seeking comment about his likely course of action. When they respond, I will let you know.
Florida once led the nation in gun rights. We were the first to institute shall-issue concealed carry, the castle doctrine and stand your ground laws. We’ve watched patiently while 21 states have passed us by. We’re tired of waiting. The time for action is now, and there’s only one man who can do it.
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.