A week or so ago we told CHQ readers about the confusing debate over Florida’s proposed “constitutional carry” bill that would remove the requirement to obtain a state permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Florida Republican state Representative Chuck Brannan introduced HB 543, a “constitutional carry” bill that would eliminate any requirement in Florida for a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
The bill was moving through the legislature right on schedule; to date, the proposed bill has been approved by each committee it has been presented to, including the Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law Government Operations Subcommittee, and the Judiciary Committee.
However, HB 543 hit a snag, but not from the Lefty antigun Democrats and their Big Money supporters from out of state.
Instead, the snag is that the bill is not constitutional enough according to some Second Amendment rights advocates who favor “open carry” as the correct constitutional interpretation of the “shall not be infringed” language of the Second Amendment.
Our take at the time was show us the amendment to remove the concealment requirement and we will support it.
And it looked like our challenge was answered when Hillsborough County Republican Mike Beltran filed an open carry amendment to this year’s public safety bill, “electrifying gun rights advocates who have been pushing for more than a month for ‘open carry’ to be included in the permitless carry bill,” as the Florida Phoenix put it.
However, the Beltran amendment was every bit as confusing as the debate over what does and does not constitute “constitutional carry.”
As Phillip Stucky explained in an article posted to mynews13.com, the amendment was a proposed addition to CS/HB 543, known in the legislature as the Public Safety bill. A key restriction in the proposal was that any open carried handgun needed to be in a "level two or greater retention device," and the amendment also called for any individual doing so needed to either have a concealed carry license, or meet the criteria to get one.
In other words, not pure “shall not be infringed” open carry, but open carry according to government regulation.
Less than 24 hours after state Representative Beltran filed the amendment that could have allowed some form of government regulated open carrying of firearms in Florida, the amendment was withdrawn, disappointing at least some Second Amendment advocates.
And that puts us back where we were on Florida Republican state Representative Chuck Brannan’s HB 543, permitless concealed carry bill.
We prefer the Second Amendment’s plain language that government shall not infringe upon the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. But that’s not where we are at this moment in history – the government is infringing on our right to keep and bear arms and Rep. Chuck Brannan’s HB 543 removes most, but not all, of that infringement.
To those who said this year’s bill needed to be amended to remove the concealment requirement we said we’re all for it, show us the amendment – and Rep. Mike Beltran stepped up and did.
Unfortunately, while Rep. Mike Beltran’s heart was in the right place his amendment created a whole new set of government infringements on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment – and now it has been withdrawn once again making open carry a moot point for this year’s session of the Florida legislature.
So, do we take what we have achieved this Session of the legislature and come back in the future to perfect the law with a bill removing the concealment requirement, or do we chuck it all and start over with a perfect bill sometime in the future?
Rep. Chuck Brannan is one of the best friends Florida gun owners have in the legislature, we think making the perfect the enemy of the good, or in this case the good and achievable, is a bad idea. We urge Florida’s gun owners and 2A advocates to support Rep. Brannan’s HB 543 this year and spend the next year raising money and organizing campaigns to elect legislators who will vote to remove the concealment requirement in 2024.
CHQ Editor George Rasley is a certified rifle and pistol instructor, a Glock ® certified pistol armorer and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant, or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. A member of American MENSA, he served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Hillsborough County Republican Mike Beltran
House Bill 543
Young Americans for Liberty
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo
Florida Sheriffs Association