The Florida House of Representatives has passed a bill eliminating the requirement for an individual to obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm in the state.
The bill, referred to by supporters as a constitutional carry law, passed the Republican-controlled House with 76 yes votes and 32 no votes on Friday afternoon, Click Orlando reported.
House Bill 543 would allow lawful gun owners in the state to carry without asking the government for a permit and without paying a fee. Those who wish to still obtain a permit can do so if the bill becomes law. The bill would also not change who can and cannot carry a firearm.
“The NRA would like to thank the Florida House for passing NRA-spearheaded constitutional carry,” Art Thomm, the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Florida state director, told Fox News Digital in a statement on Friday. “This vital legislation guarantees that law-abiding Floridians will not need government permission or pay any fees to protect themselves and their loved ones.
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“Lead sponsor Representative Chuck Brannan and Speaker Paul Renner played key roles and we thank them for their outstanding leadership throughout the process. The NRA, our millions of committed members, and Florida gun owners eagerly anticipate Florida joining the ranks as America’s twenty-sixth constitutional carry state.”
Brannan, the Republican sponsor of the bill, has referred to the measure as a “public safety” bill.
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“This bill is a big step, a big step to help the average law-abiding citizen, to keep them from having to go through the hoops of getting a permit from the government to carry their weapon,” said Brannan, Fox 13 Tampa reported.
“It is also not going to change who can and who cannot carry a gun. People that are prohibited now are still going to be prohibited.”
Constitutional carry laws, the NRA said, strengthen “the right to self-defense in Florida by recognizing the right of any law-abiding adult who is at least 21 years old and legally eligible to obtain a carry permit, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission.”
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Critics argue that easier access to concealed carry will lead to more gun violence.
“America has seen a devastating increase in gun deaths every year and more mass shootings than days this year,” Katie Hathaway of Moms Demand Action said during a public comment session earlier this month.
“This legislation will not make us safer, it’s a threat to everyone’s right to feel safe from gun violence and not be shot.”
The bill will now head to the Senate where it is expected to pass and then be sent to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis has previously signaled his support of a constitutional carry bill if it lands on his desk. His office hasn’t yet publicly commented on the bill.
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There are currently 25 states that have constitutional carry or permitless carry laws on the books, meaning Florida could tip the U.S. into becoming a constitutional carry-majority nation.
Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.