US Governor DeSantis eases restrictions to carry concealed guns

Governor Ron DeSantis signs bill allowing gun owners to carry concealed firearms without background checks in Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
DeSantis speaks to a crowd at Adventure Outdoors gun store on March 30 in Smyrna, Georgia [John Bazemore/AP Photo]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill allowing gun owners in the state to carry concealed firearms without a permit, as state Republicans continue their push to roll back restrictions.

DeSantis, a likely contender for the 2024 United States presidential elections, held a private signing ceremony for the bill on Monday. Starting July 1, the law will allow gun owners to carry weapons in public without training or background checks.

“Constitutional Carry is in the books,” DeSantis said in a brief press release, referencing a term popular among conservatives who believe the Second Amendment of the US Constitution should allow for the unrestricted right to bear firearms.

The US continues to debate gun access as the country struggles with a spate of mass shootings. As advocates of reform call for greater restrictions on firearms, Republican legislators have pushed to loosen existing rules.

Opponents of reform argue that access to firearms is an essential right and that attempts at regulation are ineffective.

Supporters of gun control, however, have expressed outrage over the decision in Florida, stating that the relaxed restrictions would endanger lives.

Fred Guttenberg, the father of a child killed in a 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, responded to Monday’s news by saying, “I’m pissed.”

At an online press conference after the bill signing, Guttenberg warned that DeSantis’s decision would lead to more deaths like that of his daughter, 14-year-old Jaime. She was killed when a gunman arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a semi-automatic rifle and shot 17 people to death.

“Somebody in Florida may die” because of Monday’s legislation, Guttenberg said. “That will be because of you, Ron DeSantis.”

The conservative governor has previously signalled that he would like to go further in removing rules around gun ownership.

DeSantis has expressed a belief that people should be able to carry firearms openly without keeping them concealed, but the state legislature has not indicated that it will consider legislation to that effect in the current session.

The bill comes one week after six people were killed at a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, prompting renewed debate about gun access in the US.

Source: Al Jazeera, The Associated Press