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Just Days After Nashville School Shooting, Florida Senate Sends Permitless Carry to Gov. DeSantis; Florida Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond

March 30, 2023

Polling Shows 77 Percent of Floridians Oppose Permitless Carry and Over 80 Percent of Gun Owners, Non-Gun Owners, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents Agree That High Safety Standards are Critical in Issuing Concealed Carry Permits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements after the Florida Senate voted to pass permitless carry, sending the bill to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for his signature. The vote comes just days after the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville Tennessee, where three children and three adults were shot and killed. Recent polling shows that 77 percent of Floridians oppose permitless carry which allows people to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public without a permit, criminal history check, or safety training.

“If Governor DeSantis and Republican legislators truly cared about public safety and protecting law enforcement, they’d be championing laws to keep guns out of dangerous hands — but instead, they’re choosing to flood Florida’s streets with concealed guns,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “These lawmakers just made it clear they serve the gun lobby, not the clear majority of Florida voters — including Republicans — who favor high standards for carrying a hidden gun.”

“Even for Florida lawmakers, this is a new low — rushing to score gun lobby points on the heels of another mass shooting, before parents have even had a chance to bury their murdered children,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Florida voters and public safety officials have made it clear that this dangerous policy has no place in their state, but state lawmakers have decided they know better. If Governor DeSantis cares about his constituents, he’ll veto this decision. If he doesn’t, gun safety advocates and survivors will be here every step of the way to hold him accountable for the violence he’s enabling.”

“We are still processing and grieving the mass shooting in Nashville, alongside a deadly start to the year here at home, and Senate Republicans have chosen to destroy one of Florida’s last remaining common-sense gun safety laws,” said Gay Valimont, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We’ve seen what happens when the guard rails of public safety are undone. Putting more guns in more places with no questions asked will only lead to more senseless and preventable tragedies here in Florida. Governor DeSantis should veto this bill for the safety of our children and communities.” 

“We’re living in a world where shots can ring out anywhere at any time, and instead of taking action to protect us, our lawmakers are choosing to put our lives and our futures at risk,” said Alexis Dorman, a volunteer with the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action. “We’ve learned to expect nothing less from our gun-lobby-backed politicians, but we’re not done showing up to demand more. Enough is enough — we will see you at the ballot box.” 

Permitless carry would allow people to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public without a permit, criminal history check, or safety training, dismantling Florida’s system of responsible gun ownership. New research has also revealed that road rage shootings are at the highest level since 2018 and that states with permitless carry have by far the highest rate of road rage shootings with injuries or deaths. In fact, permitless carry states have nearly triple the rate of road rage shooting victimization than those states with the most protective standards. Florida already has the 30th highest gun-death rate in the country, with 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people, and this bill will only further jeopardize the safety and lives of Floridians.

Because Florida does not require background checks on unlicensed firearm sales, someone can buy a gun online with no background check — the permit may be the only background check a person ever receives. Permitless carry takes away a vital tool from law enforcement to ensure a person carrying a gun in public isn’t a criminal with a dangerous history. Law enforcement across the country, including in Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina have been vocal opponents of permitless carry legislation. In an average year over 2,900 people are killed by guns in Florida, and over 5,200 more are shot and wounded. Gun violence costs Florida $40.3 billion each year, of which $875.9 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Florida is available here.

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