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DeSantis Signs Permitless Carry Gun Bill Into Law During Nonpublic Ceremony

More than 230 Floridians have died due to gun violence since the start of the year.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis greets attendees as he arrives at an event on his nationwide book tour, at Adventure Outdoors, the largest gun store in the country, on March 30, 2023, in Smyrna, Georgia.

During a private signing ceremony — and exactly one week after a mass shooting that killed three children and three adults at a school in Nashville, Tennessee — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed a bill into law allowing state residents to carry a concealed loaded gun without a permit.

The bill was signed behind closed doors — an unusual move for the governor, who typically signs bills with great fanfare, and who is likely to announce a presidential run in the coming months. Only legislators and gun rights advocates, including members of the National Rifle Association, were present at the signing.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, makes Florida the 26th state in the country to enact a permitless carry provision, and makes the U.S. overall a majority permitless carry country.

The law will allow Floridians to carry weapons in public without a permit. People who have been convicted of felonies would not be able to carry guns legally under the legislation, nor would people who have been charged with or convicted of certain domestic violence crimes.

Gun reform advocates condemned DeSantis for further deregulating guns in Florida, noting that the law will likely lead to more deaths in a state that is already a frequent site of mass shootings.

“The [bill’s] signing comes exactly one week after 3 children and 3 staff members were shot and killed at Covenant School” in Nashville, gun reform group Moms Demand Action wrote on Twitter. “Gov. DeSantis signed the bill behind closed doors because he knows putting his own political ambitions over the lives of children is not good for his image.”

“Permitless Carry policy hidden in a ‘Public Safety’ bill does not make our communities safer,” said Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat who represents Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. “This is a wildly unpopular bill, which is probably why it was signed quietly, behind closed doors, and with no fanfare.”

Indeed, recent polling on the bill conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab demonstrated that more than three-quarters of the state (77 percent) opposed the idea of removing the license requirement to carry a gun, including 62 percent of Republicans.

As of April 3, 2023, there have been more than 10,000 gun deaths in the U.S. this year, with more than 230 deaths in Florida alone.