By a party-line vote of 27 to 13, the Florida Senate passed a bill Thursday authorizing the unlicensed concealed-carry of handguns. The state House passed a similar bill last week, also along party lines.
The bill is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has already promised to sign the legislation, which has an effective date of July 1.
The bill removes the need for a license from the government to carry concealed firearms, and it does away with the state’s training requirement.
During the debate, Democratic senators issued dire warnings, claiming that Florida would become the “Wild West,” and that the bill would impact the state’s minority communities hardest.
The bill’s sponsor, Florida Senator Jay Collins, a Republican who represents Hillsborough County, told the Senate of his service as a Green Beret and the evil he encountered overseas. His legislation, Collins said, made it easier for law-abiding Floridians to defend themselves here at home.
Collins, a Purple Heart recipient, scoffed at the claims by some of his Democratic colleagues who claimed the bill would make it easier for criminals to carry weapons.
“You cannot legislate those who operate outside the law,” he said.
Gov. DeSantis has not yet said when he intends to sign the legislation, which would make Florida the 26th state — the majority state — to allow unlicensed or constitutional carry.