TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Since permitless carry became law in Florida, Tampa Bay area firearms instructors say more gun owners are choosing not to go through the safety training previously required to own a gun in Florida.
Florida is the latest permitless carry state, meaning Florida gun owners are allowed to carry concealed weapons without the previously required permit or training.
“You do not understand how to use a firearm properly unless you’ve taken extensive firearms training,” said Ryan G. Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, which offers the previously required concealed firearms training, and more advanced training courses as well.
Before the permitless carry law went into effect, Thomas said about 1,000 people would take the concealed carry class every month. Since the law went into effect July 1, Thomas said the number of people taking the course significantly dropped, with only about 200 people a month.
“It upsets me at how many people think that owning a firearm is a game,” Thomas said. “They think all they need to do is buy a gun, walk into a gun range, and they’re just going to figure this out on their own.”
“The CWP classes, I’ve heard from colleagues in multiple counties across the state, and from the NRA at the state level, are down significantly,” said Jeff Davis, owner of GUNSAFETY4U.
Davis said he does not teach the concealed carry course, but does offer more advanced NRA certified courses. Davis said he has seen demand double for more advanced firearm training, so he believes people are being responsible despite not being required to have a permit.
Davis said he believes it’s beneficial for gun owners to still get a permit to carry, despite the new law.
“When you go through the licensing process, number one, you have to be trained and then certified by an instructor as being safe per the Florida rules,” Davis said. “What it really provides you with is portability, it allows you to go beyond the borders of Florida.”
Both instructors stress the importance of knowing how to handle a firearm.
“If you make a tiny mistake with a gun, you could easily kill yourself, you could kill a family member, or some random innocent person, all because you were too lazy to get the proper training from a professional to actually help you understand what you should and should not be doing,” Thomas said.
To see the most current numbers for applications for concealed firearms in Florida, click here.