Most Florida gun owners we know were pleased (can we say happy as Hell?) when 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 has been 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 has now 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.
Over the weekend some anonymous 2A activists went after Brannan, confronting him at his home and posting video of the confrontation online. They have also apparently been circulating a flyer falsely portraying Brannan as shaking hands with Joe Biden.
Needless to say, Brannan, one of the best friends Florida gun owners have in the Florida legislature, is not happy.
Brannan told Florida Politics he was “aggravated” at the activist for showing up at his door with a flyer attacking his position. The flyer including a photo altered to make it look like he was shaking Democratic President Joe Biden‘s hand.
“This is total lies. I have never met Joe Biden,” Brannan said. “I told them I don’t appreciate you Photoshopping a picture and handing it out to me neighbors.”
The flyer has a disclosure revealing it was paid for by the Texas-based Young Americans for Liberty. It calls Brannan’s legislation a “counterfeit carry” bill and urges voters call him and tell him to “stop watering down constitutional carry.”
Florida is one of a number of states that require both parties’ consent for a conversation to be recorded, and Rep, Brannan says he was not aware he was being recorded and did not give his consent.
Setting aside for a moment the argument as to whether the bill is “counterfeit carry” ambushing your best friend in the legislature and engaging in the blatantly illegal act of secretly recording him is not helpful to the cause of Second Amendment rights.
Now to the real crux of the matter: Do we want a bill that is not perfect in the eyes of some, but expands liberty by removing the requirement for us to say “Mother may I” to the Nanny State when we want to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, or do we want to have no bill at all and leave things as they are?
Because this year the choices aren’t a perfect bill or no bill, they are Rep. Chuck Brannan’s HB 543, or no bill at all.
Why do we say that a perfect bill isn’t in the cards this year?
Because a perfect bill doesn’t have the support or the votes this year.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has already said she’s opposed to open carry, and she doesn’t sound like she’s very open to changing her mind unless the Florida Sheriffs Association changes its mind.
According to reporting by our friends at thecapialist.com Sen. Passidomo stated that she would only support gun-related legislation that the Florida Sheriffs Association, which represents the views of law enforcement agencies across the state, is in favor of. The organization does not support open carry, instead it favors Rep. Brannan’s legislation.
“I will support what the Sheriffs of this state, who are the experts, [support],” said Passidomo. “I don’t know one end of a gun from another, so I certainly want to support the experts.”
While the pandemic response has made us more skeptical than ever about the role of “experts” in government, we must give Sen. Passidomo credit for admitting she doesn’t know anything about guns, while at the same time embracing the importance of individual liberty and the Second Amendment and arguing that law-abiding citizens should be trusted to exercise their right to bear arms.
“The reality is, this bill basically says you do not need the government’s permission to carry your weapon,” Passisomo said. “That, in my mind, is Constitutional carry.”
So, here’s where things get confusing for us: 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 say this year’s bill needs to be amended to remove the concealment requirement we say we’re all for it, show us the amendment. Unfortunately, no one has introduced such an amendment or bill, making it a moot point.
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?
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. Chuck 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
House Bill 543
Young Americans for Liberty
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo
Florida Sheriffs Association