Parkland Families, South Florida Leaders Warn Illegal Carrying of Guns Would Endanger Public Safety (2023)

Florida's decision to allow people to carry concealed weapons without having to obtain a permit drew condemnation on Monday from South Florida leaders, who warned it would jeopardize public safety and lead to moregun violence.

Concern about unauthorized possession was especially strong among people personally affected by the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting or who participated in the response to the killing of 17 people and injuring 17 others at the Parkland school.


“This proposal is a step back in time, not just before Stoneman Douglas,” said State Representative Dan Daley, a Northwest Broward Democrat who graduated from Parkland High School. “It's a throwback to the days of the Wild West,” added Daley, where gunslingers could “deliver justice as they saw fit. In my opinion, he does not belong to a civilized society."

Their objections are unlikely to dampen momentum for illegal carrying, a proposal that will nearly become law, making Florida the 26th state to allow people to carry guns without a license or background check.


[RELATED: Jared Moskowitz and Maxwell Frost Want FBI and Other Agencies to Quickly Brief Congress on Mass Shooting Surge]

The main driver of change,House Speaker Paul Renner, Palm Coast RepublicanHe said it was an effort to "eliminate the receipt of government permission" for people who wish to use their God-given rights.

“At the core of the idea of ​​freedom is the right to be able to defend ourselves from physical attacks, as well as defend those we love. The Constitution did not give us these rights, the creator gave us these rights. But put that in writing in the Second Amendment. And the courts have interpreted this as an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” said Renner.

Stoneman-Douglas Community

Among those who condemned the legislation wereUS Representative Jared Moskowitz, D-Parkland, Stoneman Douglas Graduate, State Representative Christine Hunschofsky, Democrat of Northwest Broward and Mayor of Parkland on February 14, 2018, when the massacre occurred,Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered at her school, and Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquín was murdered there.

Guttenberg said on Twitter that "many" people in Florida "will be killed as a result of" more guns being carried by people who don't have to go through the permitting process. “There is no freedom from the grave,” he wrote.

With more people carrying guns unrestricted, Florida will become a more dangerous state, Oliver said. "It's actually putting a lot of people in danger."

Moskowitz, who was a state representative at the time of the massacre, was instrumental in passing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raised the age of purchasing a rifle from 18 to 21, created a statewide waiting period for gun sales and made it easier for law enforcement to seize guns from people suspected of being dangerous.

“Shortly before the fifth anniversary of the murders at my Parkland school, the Legislature is proposing more guns as a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Five years later, the gun reforms in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act still exist because they work," Moskowitz said in a written statement. "Republicans in the Florida Legislature who supported the MSD Act were re-elected. safe, voters reward it and support it. This proposal is political, it's 'Transport Policy' and they know it”.

#TheFloridaWayrespects the right of Floridians to bear arms. HB 543 ensures that those who are eligible to own a gun do not need an additional government permit to carry

—Paul Renner (@Paul_Renner)January 30, 2023


Illegal transport has powerful patrons. Renner outlined the proposal Monday at a news conference in Tallahassee.


Senate President Kathleen Passidomo soon wrote on Twitter that she agreed with the sponsors. "I stand with these warriors, law enforcement and law-abiding Floridans who shouldn't ask the government for permission to protect themselves."

And Governor Ron DeSantis spoke positively of the idea. Democrats said he was motivated by trying to appeal to primary voters in other states who will decide the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, which DeSantis is expected to seek.

"This is yet another attempt by Governor Ron DeSantis to appeal to a conservative base while running for president, and I don't know about you, but I refuse to be a pawn in the governor's political ambitions," said State Representative Anna Eskamani. said D-Orlando.

After last year's election, Republicans control large majorities in both the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, leaving Democrats unable to block the majority's wishes.

Two South Florida Republican legislators, state Rep. Chip LaMarca of Broward and Mike Caruso of Palm Beach County, did not immediately respond to requests for their positions on the proposed legislation.

Gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association support the legislation. Gun violence prevention organizations such as Giffords, founded by former US Representative Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who was seriously injured in an assassination attempt, oppose it.



Under current law, people who wish to carry concealed weapons must apply to the state for a license and go through a process that includes passing criminal background checks. More than 2.62 million people had concealed weapons licenses as of Dec. 31, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the program.

In 1988, there were 33,000 licensed gun bearers.

Lawmakers will consider the proposal (HB 543) during the legislative session that begins March 7.

Under the bill introduced by State Representative Chuck Brannan, R-Macclenny, a person can carry a concealed weapon without a license if they meet the same criteria for obtaining a license: that includes being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, being at least at least 21 years of age, does not have a physical condition that prevents the safe handling of a gun or firearm, the person has not been convicted of a felony or convicted of a felony involving controlled substances in a three-year period, or not have not been found to be mentally incapacitated or committed to a mental institution.

They must also have photo identification whenever carrying a concealed weapon and present it to a police officer when requested.

The bill also changes the penalty for possessing or firing a firearm on school property from a second-degree felony to a second-degree misdemeanor.


It would also allow anyone over the age of 18 "who is in lawful possession of a gun or other weapon" to possess such a weapon in a private home if the weapon is "securely locked or not readily accessible for immediate use".

Due to their age, they could not carry the weapon with them.

In 2 weeks, it will be 5 years since Jaime and 16 others were murdered in Parkland, Florida. speaker this morning@Paul_Rennerannounced carry-out legislation (open carry below), ensuring more people die due to gun violence in Florida. There is no freedom from the grave.

— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg)January 30, 2023

law enforcement

Police leaders are divided on the issue.

"We trust people to do the right thing," said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, who appeared with Renner at the launch of the legislation in Tallahassee.

“We see incidents every day where law-abiding citizens, armed with the ability to protect themselves, get in the way of active shooters, stop armed robberies, can protect themselves in all kinds of different scenarios,” he said.

He said the sheriffs' organization supports the legislation.


But Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony is strongly opposed to the idea.

“We will keep the checks and balances and increase them. I don't think we should reduce our due diligence to protect this community,” Tony said during a Jan. 13 appearance before the Broward Legislative Branch. A spokeswoman said on Monday that Tony's position "remains the same".

Tony said he didn't want to speak on behalf of the Broward police chiefs "without confirming it, but you know, sharing and talking with our police chiefs here, we all have the same feeling."

He said he sees "no need to soften" the permit process, which includes a background check and screening to see if the applicant has mental health issues. It seems like every time there are mass shootings, people come back and say there were signs that something was going to happen, he said. All of those things "have a tie back to every shooting we have in this country, every mass shooting we have," he said.

Tony was named sheriff in 2019 by DeSantis, who cited shortcomings in Sheriff Scott Israel's previous performance before, during and after the Stoneman Douglas massacre. Tony was elected to a full term as sheriff in 2020.

The Florida Association of Police Chiefs has not taken a position on the legislation, said William Stander, a spokesman for the group.


Spokespersons for Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, as well as some major police departments in Boca Raton, Hollywood and West Palm Beach, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. The Fort Lauderdale Police Chief was not in the office and was unavailable for comment, a spokesman said.

During the Democrats' press conference, Eskamani said that many police officers are opposed to the idea of ​​having uninvestigated armed citizens on the streets. “I know there is an overwhelming majority of law enforcement who agree with us, but unfortunately, in the current political climate, many are inclined not to speak out,” he said.

[RELATED: Jared Moskowitz Becomes Vice Chairman of Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force]


Democrats recognized that they had little ability to affect the outcome.

“We live in a unique situation in the Legislature where the leadership can do whatever they want with [the] vast majority,” said State Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Palm Beach County. He urged the public to voice their concerns to lawmakers.

She said Democrats would push for alternatives.

“We are not just the 'No' bench. We have comprehensive legislation that would address many issues of safe gun ownership,” said Skidmore. “It's a two-pronged approach, you know, it's reactionary and proactive on our part. So I think that's the message that we want them to get and we want our constituents to get that there is an alternative and we have proposed it."


Hunschofsky said the Legislature should focus on responsible gun ownership, which would include "universal background checks, safe storage, education, expanded hazard protection orders, and ghost gun regulation."

Parkland Families, South Florida Leaders Warn Illegal Carrying of Guns Would Endanger Public Safety (1)


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Both sides chose their words carefully to advance their positions.

Renner and other Republicans have used the term "constitutional toll", which is conservative terminology that favors the expanded use of gun rights.

Art Thomm, Florida state director for the National Rifle Association, said in a prepared statement that the gun rights group "looks forward to welcoming Florida to the bosom of the freedom that the constitutional carry affords."

Democrats said this is a misleading term.

“This is not a constitutional charge. This is an untrained transport. We have to be very clear and specific about what the legislation actually does, i.e. remove the training requirement and you no longer get the check,” Hunschofsky said. "I think it's really important how we talk about this."


Orlando Sentinel staff writers Jeffrey Schweers and Skyler Swisher contributed to this report, which includes input from the Associated Press and the Florida News Service.

Anthony Man can be reached, a Twitter @browardpoliticsis onPost.noticias/@browardpolitics.

Parkland Families, South Florida Leaders Warn Illegal Carrying of Guns Would Endanger Public Safety (2)
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