A proposal in the Florida Legislature to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons without a permit has sparked outrage among LGBTQ activists, who fear it will lead to increased violence. The so-called “constitutional carry” bill, which would allow eligible individuals to carry a concealed gun without obtaining a permit, was filed by Florida House Speaker Paul Renner on Monday.
Critics of the bill, including former Democratic lawmaker Carlos Guillermo Smith, argue that it would undo progress made in gun violence prevention in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 and the Parkland shooting in 2018. Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse shooting and spokesman for Equality Florida, released a statement condemning the legislation as “an endorsement of violent hate.”
Gun control advocates argue that Florida’s concealed carry permit requirements infringe upon the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But, supporters of the proposed legislation argue that it is necessary to remove the state certification requirement for carrying a weapon in public places.
Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents a district that includes the Pulse site, considers the bill dangerous for marginalized communities. Meanwhile, the loosening of gun safety measures comes as Florida advances policies that restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics and pull books that promote tolerance.
As the proposed legislation moves forward, many worry about the consequences for Florida’s residents and the impact it will have on the state’s ongoing gun violence epidemic. “Permitless carry permits more violence. More hate. More danger not just for the LGBTQ+ community… it makes Florida less safe for everyone,” says David Moran, an LGBTQ+ gun control activist.