The media spent the past eight months criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis for making Florida the 26th state in the US to sign a ‘constitutional carry’ bill into law. They argued that allowing people to legally carry concealed weapons would result in an increase in violent crimes, but new findings suggest the opposite – even in some of Florida’s biggest cities.

What Is Constitutional Carry?

Constitutional carry, also known as ‘permitless carry,’ gives law-abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed handgun (one that is hidden from plain view) without a license or permit. It makes it easier for people to protect themselves in public, but it has been met with a lot of resistance from anti-gun organizations.

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Constitutional carry laws are not to be confused with ‘concealed carry’ laws – which usually require a license or permit. Some states adopt ‘open carry’ laws, which allow citizens to legally carry guns that are visible to the naked eye, but ‘constitutional carrying’ is becoming more popular and accepted nationwide.

When Did Florida Pass House Bill 543?

DeSantis always favored signing a permitless carry bill into law, but knew it would take time. “I can’t tell you if it’s going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill,” he said during a press conference in May 2022.

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On April 3, 2023, DeSantis followed through on that promise and signed House Bill 543 – a permitless carry bill that went into effect on July 1, 2023. “Constitutional Carry is in the books,” he said at the signing. With that, the Sunshine State joined the 25 other states in adopting similar laws over the past 20 years.

Florida Slammed By Media For Passing Bill During Sensitive Time

Despite receiving a lot of support and praise from fellow Republicans, Gov. DeSantis was vilified by Democrats, left-wing media members, and anti-gun lobbyists. They not only criticized him for the signing of the bill, but also the timing of it – alluding to the recent rise in mass shootings and gun violence in America.

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Just one week before signing the bill, a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee resulted in the deaths of three children and three adults. It was a sensitive time for America, which is why many people – including the White House – were quick to denounce the new gun law in Florida.

Giffords Described The Law As ‘Dangerous’ In January 2023

In January 2023, Giffords – a gun violence prevention organization run by Gabrielle Giffords – publicly denounced the thought of permitless carry legislation in Florida. “On the heels of a devastating week of gun violence, our elected leaders should be taking steps to make us safer-not putting communities in greater danger,” Giffords said in a press release.

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She went on to argue that such a bill would ‘drive gun violence up’ and put the ‘safety of our families and communities’ at risk – citing a flurry of studies and statistics to strengthen her claim. Her statement was echoed in an article published by Forbes in March – one month before the bill was signed.

MSNBC Called It ‘Extreme’ And ‘Controversial’ Law In April 2023

On the day DeSantis signed HB 543 into law, MSNBC joined in on the criticism when they published an article titled, ‘Following mass shootings, DeSantis signs permitless carry bill.’ The article intensified some of the rhetoric coming from the far-right, including the unsettling timing and quiet nature of the law.

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The article promoted a tweet by Giffords, who (again) described the law as ‘dangerous’ and ‘unpopular.’ It also highlighted the fact that DeSantis failed to hold a ‘public signing ceremony’ to introduce the bill – as he has done with past bills. They argued it was all part of his tactic to sign the bill in silence.

White House Press Secretary Speaks On Behalf Of Joe Biden

It wasn’t just the media attacking DeSantis – even the White House painted a grim picture of what House Bill 543 meant for public safety. On April 3, 2023, Karine Jean-Pierre – the current White House Press Secretary – posted a tweet on behalf of Present Joe Biden, condemning the signing of the bill.

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“It is shameful that so soon after another tragic school shooting, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a permitless concealed carry bill behind closed doors,” she wrote – going as far as mentioning the Parkland, Pulse Nightclub, and Pine Hills shootings that happened in the Sunshine State in recent years.

Was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Right To Pass HB 543? New Findings Say Yes!

DeSantis rustled a lot of feathers by signing HB 543, but a lot of the opposition was centered around the idea that constitutional carry laws result in an increase in violent crimes. The problem with that opposition is that Florida didn’t see an increase in violent crimes last year – in fact, a lot of its major cities saw a decrease!

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For example, the United States witnessed 656 mass shootings in 2023 – up from 647 in 2022 – but Florida saw a reduction over that same period (from 31 in 2022 to 30 in 2023). 12 of those attacks happened before the law was signed in April, and 17 of them happened before the law took effect in July.

Jacksonville Sees Decrease In Violent Crimes and Shootings

Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida, with a population of around 950,000 people. While many people expected violent crimes to increase with the signing of HB 543, new reports are refuting those claims. For example, Jacksonville actually saw a 6% reduction in homicides in 2023 – from 167 in 2022 to 158 in 2023.

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Not only that, but more than half of the city’s homicides (89, or 56% to be exact) occurred in six of the 34 zip codes that make up Jacksonville – meaning a strong majority of Jacksonville is relatively safe. The 32209 zip code (Moncrief, Durkeeville, and Grand Park) reported the most homicides, with 31 in 2023.

Miami Sees Decrease In Homicides, Non-Fatal Shootings, and Non-Contact Shootings

What we saw in Jacksonville was minor compared to what we witnessed in Miami – Florida’s second-largest city with a population of about 450000 people. In fact, many people are saying Miami was the safest it has ever been in 2023 – citing a major decrease in homicides, non-fatal shootings, and non-contact shootings.

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The city saw just 31 homicides in 2023, as opposed to 49 in 2022, and police officers solved 70% of those cases. They also saw a 34% decrease in non-fatal shootings (100 in 2023, down from 151 in 2022), and a major drop in non-contact shootings (255 in 2023, down from 379 in 2022).

The Real Question: Do Constitutional Carry Laws Promote or Deter Crimes?

It’s no secret that Florida saw a drop in violent crime in 2023 – and we now have the statistics to support it – but what contributed to that? Was it the new constitutional carry law that helped deter crime, or was it the investment in innovative crime-fighting technology?

Source: The Ansara Law Firm

To be honest, it was a combination of both – as well as a slew of other factors, including an increase in city funding and a more aggressive stance on enforcing the law. With that said, it can’t be a coincidence that crime rates are dropping at a time when more citizens are walking around with guns.

What Role Does Constitutional Carry Play In Public Safety?

Knowing that people are walking around with concealed handguns without a permit is unsettling to a lot of people, but that’s because they picture bad people with easy access to guns. What they don’t picture are all the good people who now have the means to protect themselves, their families, and those around them.

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One thing we have to consider is that legally carrying a gun doesn’t turn legal gun owners into criminals. Most ‘bad guys with guns’ are already walking around with a gun, but these new laws allow ‘good guys with guns’ to help hold the ‘bad guys’ accountable and keep them honest.

Where Does the Second Amendment Fit Into All Of This?

The Second Amendment is one of the most popular amendments to the United States Constitution. It gives Americans the right to ‘keep and bear arms,’ which basically means we have the right to own a gun and use it in moments of need – such as self-defense inside your home.

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Constitutional carry laws piggyback off this idea – arguing that we should not only be allowed to own a gun, but carry it as we please. Of course, the 2nd Amendment is a federal law that applies to the entire nation, while constitutional carry laws are adopted and enforced at the state level.

Do All States Institute Constitutional Carry?

As of right now, 27 of the 50 states have adopted some type of constitutional carry law over the past 20 years. Vermont was the first to do so in 1793, as it’s written directly in their constitution. In fact, Virginia was the only state with a constitutional carry law for more than 200 years – until Alaska broke the streak in 2003.

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Arizona and Wyoming joined in 2010, while 12 more joined between 2015 and 2019. A total of six states (Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming) signed similar laws in 2021, followed by Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, and Georgia in 2022 – Florida and Nebraska were the only two in 2023.