Current gun laws in Florida don’t do much to deter the acquisition of a firearm, but at least you currently do need a license to carry weapons in the state — a license that requires proof that you have taken at least one of several firearm safety training courses.
Even this small check on gun ownership is too much for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has repeatedly promised to sign legislation that will allow the open carry of guns without any kind of license or permit in Florida.
“I can’t tell you if it’s going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill,” DeSantis said recently at a press event in Levy County.
At least 19 children and two teachers were murdered at a Texas elementary school yesterday in the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history. It’s the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012, and the second-deadliest shooting at a K-12 school in modern U.S. history.
What every journalist and member of the press needs to ask Ron DeSantis and his allies in the state legislature right now is if they still plan to move forward with their lunatic proposal of allowing open-carry gun laws in Florida.
Allowing open carry is a terrible idea for obvious reasons. It’s just common sense that you should not be able to leave your home with a firearm without any sort of permit or license. It’s just sheer insanity by any measure.
In Texas, a state that has already enacted a permitless open carry law, shootings that don’t include suicides increased by 14 percent in 2021, with about 3,200 shootings compared to the same period in 2020, which recorded about 2,800 shootings. Gun Violence incidents actually spiked up an eyebrow-raising 50 percent this year when compared to the same period in 2019, which saw 2,100 shootings.
In 2021, Gov. Abbott signed 2 laws allowing Texans 21+ to carry handguns without licenses or gun training, and to allow certain 18-20 year olds to carry handguns too.
Today, he says the shooting—which killed at least 14 children and one teacher—is "incomprehensible."
— Abby Vesoulis (@abbyvesoulis) May 24, 2022
Florida has bigger issues that lawmakers need to address. We are currently the least affordable state in the country, with eight of the top ten housing markets with the fastest rising rents nationwide. Ron DeSantis and his cronies should focus less on banning books and promising to allow anyone to carry a gun in public and instead legislate so that working Floridians can afford and survive living here.
Don’t expect much to change from the pay-to-play politicians that hold power in Florida. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has received $3,305,355 in campaign contributions from the NRA and Ron DeSantis has consistently received their support for his campaigns. They don’t care about the well-being of their constituents, and the deaths of 19 innocent kids are unlikely to change that or stop open carry from being enacted in this state.
Only voters can change that, and they should do everything in their power to make that change.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from @tomaskenn.
This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.