2023 Florida Gun Bills Are Clearly Not “Constitutional Carry” Bills

Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President

NRA-ILA Florida Flag Wall Paint

Florida – HB-543 by Rep. Chuck Brannan and SB-150 by Sen. Jay Collins are clearly NOT “Constitutional Carry” bills. The bills should more appropriately be called “Permitless Concealed Carry.”

Even though the bills are NOT “Constitutional Carry”, the bills are a positive step forward for law-abiding gun owners. Both bills remove the requirement of a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm as is currently required under Florida law and has been required since 1893. (over 125 years)

Under the proposed bills, the concealed weapon and firearm licensing program administered by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is still in place and is virtually untouched. Therefore, people who wish to keep or acquire a license to carry concealed may continue to do so as in the past.

Many (maybe most) current license holders will choose to keep the license because it not only provides for reciprocity with other states but in addition, a license holder is exempt from the waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm.

Both bills clearly state that an unlicensed person may carry a concealed weapon or firearm as defined in 790.06(1).

Further, in order to carry a concealed weapon or firearm without a license, a person must satisfy most of the criteria for receiving and maintaining a license under s. 790.06. However, the bills specifically eliminate self-defense as the specific reason for which a person may carry concealed and eliminates the training requirement in order to carry concealed without a license.

Nothing in either bill allows citizens to open carry a weapon or firearm.

While the bills may not be perfect and may not contain all of the provisions that many would like to see in the bill, they are nonetheless a good first step toward restoring the constitutional right to carry in Florida.

Incremental restoration is far better than no restoration. Some might say that restoring rights is much like eating an elephant, you do it one bite at a time.

History Of Carrying Firearms In Florida

In 1893 the Florida Legislature passed legislation requiring a person to have a license to carry a firearm.

A Florida Supreme Court En Banc Opinion issued November 21, 1941, in Watson v. Stone 148 Fla. 516 (Fla. 1941) • 4 So. 2d 700 contained a statement in a special written concurring opinion by Justice Rivers H. Buford:

Watson v. Stone, 4 So. 2d 700, 703 (Fla. 1941) (Buford, J., concurring) “I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 …has been generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and non-enforceable if contested.”

The old Florida law delegated the issuing authority and development of the criteria for issuing to Florida’s 67 individual County Commissions. Additionally, under the old law, a license to carry was only valid in the county of issuance.

In 1987 legislation was passed that provided standardized, statewide criteria for the issuance of a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The license became valid statewide in Florida with the state being the sole issuing authority.

Over 2.6 million people currently possess a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License.

Also, in 1987, Florida law allowed for open carry of a firearm without a license.

Unfortunately, a Tallahassee TV reporter did a story claiming that people would not bother to get a concealed carry license because they could carry openly without a license.

Then Florida Governor Bob Martinez literally panicked. It didn’t matter that open carry had never been a problem. Gov. Bob Martinez became hysterical and engineered the call for a Special Session in October 1987, and demanded that the law allowing open carry be repealed.

Stampeded by the anti-gun media and by Governor Bob Martinez (who was clearly ignorant on firearms issues) the Legislature passed a bill making open carry of a weapon or firearm illegal.

In 2011, a bill to allow open carry of firearms for persons who had concealed carry licenses was moving through the Legislature. The plan was to restore open carry rights incrementally.

Unfortunately, members of a group called Florida Carry, Inc. opposed the bill because they wanted full open carry without a license. Some motorcycle gang members of the organization even stormed the Capitol wearing black leather with silver chains and started threatening legislators.

Florida Carry, Inc. officials refused to agree to incremental restoration and demanded full open carry – anytime and anywhere or nothing. They got nothing.

Clearly, the “all or nothing” folks today either don’t know or didn’t learn from history.

Opposing HB-543 and SB-150 is ill-advised. Incremental restoration is much better than no restoration. In other words, something is always better than nothing, and you can always continue to work for more. That’s the nature of the legislative process.

It’s important to understand that you climb a mountain one step at a time. If you keep throwing yourself off a cliff and falling to the bottom, you’ll never get to the top of the mountain.

About Unified Sportsmen of Florida (USF)

Organized in 1976, with the assistance of the National Rifle Association, Unified Sportsmen of Florida (USF) is a non-profit membership organization incorporated under the laws of Florida. Affiliated with NRA as the Florida Legislative affiliate, USF is an independent organization dependent on membership dues and contributions for financial support. Unified Sportsmen of Florida was organized for the purpose of protecting the firearms rights of all law-abiding firearms owners in Florida and to preserve the firearms rights guaranteed in the United States and Florida Constitutions.

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Negotiating Rights Away has lost the plot as usual.

The Republican establishment in FL has been screwing us for years. They are now being exposed as Jeb Bush RINOs and that’s good.

Sean Caranna

Ms. Hammer’s defamatory accusations against Florida Carry, Inc., concerning our public policy positions, actions, and the abhorrent allegation of gang affiliation in 2011 are patiently false. This is an utter fabrication, and we demand that NRA and USF retract this libelous public statement.


I stopped reading at that point because I received the email from Florida Carry.


Did they take the Right away a piece at a time ??


Florida did back in 1893. It’s in the article above.


That was generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and non-enforceable if contested.”
Additionally, under the old law, a license to carry was only valid in the County of issuance. 1987 was the reason for no open carry. And engineered a call for a special sessions. This is what they are fighting against. Not the old law.

Pa John

I suppose the well regulated militias of the 2nd Amendment will have to figure out how to carry their rifles concealed so as not to break Florida law. Perhaps the game of golf will soon appear to be extremely popular in the state of Florida, with everyone apparently carrying golf clubs in tall shoulder bags everywhere they go. That and guitar cases and carpet bags and etc. Lots of variations of really tall backpacks – zippered from top to bottom for fast access – may become very popular over the course of time. Perfectly legal to keep and bear your… Read more »


Incremental restoration is far better than no restoration. Some might say that restoring rights is much like eating an elephant, you do it one bite at a time.”.

“Clearly, the “all or nothing” folks today either don’t know or didn’t learn from history.”.

Clearly, the patient people of the world who got plowed under by their then current elephant governments did not benefit from this philosophy. Maybe you should go dig them up and talk to them about it.



We, “incrementally” established the RIGHT to keep and bear arms between 1775 and 1781 and THAT was a much larger elephant than Florida EVER and a part in eating!

Also, “a license holder is exempt from the waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm.” IS NOT TRUE in all aspects as those of us that hold a “non-residential” Florida Weapon and Firearm License can NOT walk into a gun store in Florida and purchase a firearm AT ALL!

Last edited 2 days ago by USMC0351Grunt

They just need to pass it… Open carry can be the next step. Publicizing this, this way gives rinos the opportunity to not vote for it and say they didn’t because it wasn’t true ‘constitutional carry’.


You better do a bit more research before posting your dribble. I did a check and the statement that 47 states allow open carry is flat out not true. In several states you need, yep that’s right a permit to open carry. Contrary to what the MSM publishes about Governor DeSantis he is not a dictator and cannot sign a bill that doesn’t come to his desk.


I have no problem with incremental restoration of our rights if that is what it takes to get them back. Obviously, full restoration at once would be preferred, but in most cases, they weren’t taken from us at once. They were taken incrementally. In many (perhaps TOO many) cases, we have to show the idiot politicians and some of the idiot public, that restoring one facet of our rights did not result in the end of the world, therefore restoring others will not. Apparently Florida is afraid that the sight of citizens exercising their rights by openly carrying guns (Horrors!)… Read more »


They just told you a special sessions was conveined and they ended open carry. So this is how they should restore it.


No argument about that! Not even a little bit. Unfortunately, with what I have observed over the last 25+ years in my state, good change has come incrementally. It sucks that it has been that way, but is better than no change. In 1996 after about 30 or more years where the average citizen in SC had no means by which they could legally carry every day on their person, we got a “shall issue” permit law. Elitist liberal legislators did everything in their power to gut that law and make our permits as useless as possible. The original bill,… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Grigori

How much time do you think the average law-abiding citizens have between exercising their rights that are well established and discussed at EVERY courtroom and hearing across America and this incrementalism in comparison to the half a heartbeat that it takes for some jackass with ANY weapon to snuff out their life?

Looking at “history”? We’re out of time! So no, I for one will NOT stand for incrementalism when it comes to MY life and MY rights. I have them, I will exercise them and all the incrementalists can blow me!



even if open carry was re-established, private property owners could say you cannot open carry, and if you did you could be at least charged with some degree of trespassing, misdemeanor or felony. signage would have to be conspicuously posted to have force of law.


Thank you for pointing that out. This is one more reason I choose to not open carry. Occasionally, circumstance may dictate that I enter such a despicable venue. Things being what they are, unless I must run a metal detector gauntlet, I remain armed. What the idiots posting those signs don’t know, won’t hurt me. If open carrying, I will need to disarm and would look quite ridiculous with empty holsters and full mag pouches on my belt. My gear does not slide off of my belt easily.


Ah! “Don’t ask, don’t tell!” The ONLY thing Clinton got right where he actually DID something FOR our country!


First of all, “they” do not have the power and authority to take away ANY rights. Only YOU, the individual can WAVE your rights and THAT must be done in a court of law. Therefore, ALL of your rights are as they were from the beginning and the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 10th Amendment are your grounds to stand with IF you have the backbone to defend YOUR rights. Now, what some in Florida Carry, Inc. or Open Carry Florida has done in the past was to wear their sidearms openly while carrying a fishing pole or National or State… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by USMC0351Grunt