TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Senate on Thursday passed a bill that will allow legal gun owners in the state to carry concealed firearms in public without a permit.
HB 543 passed on a 27-13 vote and is headed for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. The bill is aimed at improving school safety.
Under the legislation, gun owners will no longer have to get a permit or pass a background check to be able to carry concealed guns in public. The legislation won’t change the current requirements for purchasing a gun.
The bill’s passage comes just days after the tragic shooting at a school in Nashville that claimed the lives of three children and three staff members. Florida lawmakers held a moment of silence in their memory ahead of the vote on Thursday.
“It doesn’t give me pause,” said State Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa). “Good guys with a gun are the antidote to, as we saw in the body cam footage, to bad guys with a gun.”
Republicans say allowing people to carry guns without a permit will bolster Floridians’ Second Amendment rights while Democrats say the legislation is dangerous and tone deaf.
“Now an individual will be able to carry in aisle five at Publix with my wife and kids, then I think it’s only fair that they should be able to carry in the same room that we are,” said State Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Broward County).
State Sen. Ileana Garcia (R-Miami-Dade) was the only Republican to vote against the legislation.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, more than 2.8 million Floridians have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
If DeSantis signs the bill, it would go into effect July 1.
This story is developing and will be updated.