ORLANDO, Fla. — A newly signed law allowing permitless carry in Florida continues to receive mixed opinions. 

What You Need To Know

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the permitless concealed carry bill into law on Monday

  • The legislation is set to go into effect starting July 1

  • Support over the law is split in the law enforcement community, with some concerned it will create a more dangerous working environment

A group of current and former lawmakers gathered in downtown Orlando Wednesday night to voice their opposition against the passage of HB 543.

Democrat Rep. Maxwell Frost spoke about a recent poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab that found 77% of Floridians “strongly or somewhat oppose the bill,” with 21% in support.

According to the survey, 93% of Democrats surveyed said they opposed the bill, along with 77% of independent voters and 62% of Republicans.

“And I want to tell you, this isn’t about gun grabbing. No one is saying go door-to-door and take people’s guns. All we’re asking for is common sense. All we’re fighting for is common sense measures that most Republicans are for, measures that most NRA members are for,” Frost said Wednesday night.

However, the survey also asked what the most important problem facing Florida is, and gun policy received only 7% from respondents.

The measure received overwhelming support in the Florida legislature, with it passing the House 76-32 and the Senate 27-13, according to state voting records.

While the bill was supported by the Florida Sheriff’s Association, including Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who attended the bill signing in Tallahassee, it was not universally backed by all law enforcement.

“The Florida Sheriff’s Association wholeheartedly supported this bill and this morning, it was placed on the governor’s desk and he signed it into law,” Ivey said in a video posted to the BCSO Facebook page, which can be viewed down below. “Today’s signing is a huge win for freedom for Florida.”

Orange County Sheriff John Mina is one of those in law enforcement who have expressed concerns over the law.

“I strongly oppose the permitless carry legislation. I have been a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years in Orange County, and allowing people to carry guns without a permit is a recipe for disaster,” Mina said in a statement to Spectrum News 13. “The law puts law enforcement in the perilous position of having to determine, sometimes within a split second, whether someone carrying a gun is simply exercising their rights, or intends to do harm.”

A June 2022 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that discusses “unintended consequences” of states that enact right-to-carry legislation, note that the “adoption of permitless carry laws between 2014 and 2020 caused a 13% average increase in officer-involved shootings.”

It cites a research paper first published in the Journal of Urban Health, which stated in its abstract that such states had “an additional four (officer-involved shooting) victimizations per year, compared to what would have happened prior to the adoption of the law.”

It goes on to state that “the increase in concealed gun carrying frequency associated with these laws may influence the perceived threat of danger faced by law enforcement. This could contribute to higher rates of OIS.”

One gun owner who received his concealed carry permit over 30 years ago said he sees the pros and cons of the law.

“On the positive side, I think it’s going to add an additional concern for anybody that has bad intentions,” Sean LaGasse said. “The difficulty on the flip-side is if a police officer pulls somebody over in the middle of the night and that individual has a weapon. Should they have a weapon or not?”

Florida is now the 26th state with such legislation. The law will take effect on July 1. 

Brevard County sheriff voices his opinion on the law