Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law on April 3 allowing a person to carry a concealed gun with a permit or training in Florida. The law does not allow for open (constitutional) carry; it applies only to concealed carry.
Florida is the 26th state to allow permitless concealed carry in the nation. The same qualifications for obtaining a concealed carry permit apply to those who do not have a permit.
Only those who meet existing criteria can carry a gun in public. Those qualifications include, being a citizen over 21 years of age, no disqualifying felony charges or any misdemeanor domestic violence charges or injunctions. When purchasing a gun, a background check must be run and the three-day waiting period will still apply, exempting only those who already have a concealed carry permit. Concealed carry permits are still available for purchase and require training and an application process to receive one. The cost is $97 for a new applicant and $55 for Florida law enforcement officers.
The new law goes into effect July 1, and both Holmes County Sheriff John Tate and Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews are supportive of the new law. As the bill passed through the House and the Senate, the Florida Sheriffâ€™s Association supported the legislation.
The new law wonâ€™t change much about how their departments handle calls and reports.
â€œWe assume everyone is armed, especially because we are rural,â€ Crews said. â€œWe will handle each call or situation on a case by case basis to determine if someone is breaking the law or not.â€
â€œShould we find someone is carrying during a call or stop, we will complete the procedure of checking to see if they are a felon or not permitted to own a gun,â€ Tate said. â€œThere really won’t be any change to our day to day handling of things.â€
Both sheriffs state that if a call is received concerning someone carrying a concealed weapon, the call would be responded to as that is required by law.
The new law also allows for the expansion of the school guardian program into private schools. Washington County does not currently have any school guardians but Crews is ready to aid in making the program come to fruition if the district decides to go that route.
â€œAfter the Majorie Stoneman Douglas Act was passed, we pushed to get resource officers in every school,â€ Crews said. â€œWe have six SROâ€™s and one supervisor in the district. If the district decided to go with guardians we would gladly help make that happen.â€
Holmes County School District decided to take part in the guardian program as well as manning each of the schools with an SRO.
â€œWe currently have 22 guardians in the program,â€ Tate said. â€œWe have 10 who have completed the training and 12 more in training. Every school in the district has guardians.â€
The most important thing Crews says the public needs to know about the new law is to know it.
â€œIf you can legally possess a gun, then you can legally carry a gun. Know where you can and cannot carry and get yourself some training, especially if you aren’t used to carrying a gun.â€
Tate echoes that sentiment but also urges people to understand the law and its boundaries.
â€œThis law only applies in Florida and the other states that allow for permitless concealed carry,â€ Tate said. â€œIf you don’t have a permit, youâ€™re good as long as you stay in Florida. If you go to another state then you will need a permit.â€