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Rep. Chuck Brannan introduces “Constitutional Carry” bill

Florida State Representative Chuck Brannan (R- Lake City), speaks about the bill he is sponsoring, during a press conference, in Tallahassee, Monday. -Photo: Florida House of Representatives

By Tami Stevenson

A press conference held Monday, in Tallahassee, announced legislation (HB 543) introduced by Representative Chuck Brannon (R) (District 10), that would allow law abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms without a license.


House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) was joined by Florida Sheriff’s Association members and other legislators in support of the bill, to announce the filing of Brannan’s legislation, along with its sister senate bill by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa).


House Speaker Paul Renner said, “Central to the idea of freedom is the right that we can defend ourselves against physical attack as well as defend those that we love.” He added, “The Constitution did not give us those rights, our Creator gave us those rights, but it does put it down on paper in the Second Amendment. …an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense.”


President of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said, “Sheriffs have a long history of protecting the Constitution. It actually goes back in the State of Florida a little over 200 years. Actually 20 years before the state even had a Constitution, Florida Sheriffs were defending the rights of those enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.”


Chuck Brannan said, “As a 30 year law enforcement professional, as a former Deputy U.S. Marshall and long time Chief Investigator for the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, I appreciate that we live in the free State of Florida.” He added, “Our right to bear arms, of course, is a shrine to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The bill that I will file later today continues to advance Second Amendment freedoms through legislation known as ‘Constitutional Carry.’ I believe Floridians have the right to bear arms to protect themselves, their families and their property without government interference.”


Brannan continued, “This bill is a big step to help the average, law abiding citizen to keep from having to go through the hoops of getting a permit from the government to carry their weapons. It is also not going to change who can and cannot carry a gun. People that are prohibited now will still be prohibited. Concealed permits will also not go away for those desiring a permit for reciprocity purposes.” He added, “Maintaining a permit is often wise when traveling out of state.”


He added, “Criminals are getting guns anyway, they’re breaking in houses, they’re breaking in cars and they’re carrying guns illegally. They don’t care what the law says. We are only giving our law abiding citizens a simpler way to have the ability to protect themselves, their families, their homes and their places of business. This bill will allow Floridians to conceal and carry their firearm without the red tape and expense of a government license.” He said he looks forward to working with his senate partner, Jay Collins, and all those involved to pass this historic legislation.”


Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John was one of a number of county sheriffs that attended the announcement in Tallahassee and said, “I’ve always been a very staunch supporter of the second amendment. This gives the law abiding citizen quick access to a weapon to protect themselves. Because when a criminal wants to commit a crime, he doesn’t say, ‘Well I need to get a permit.’ He just goes and does it anyway, and many of them are stolen. So the criminal doesn’t care if they have a permit or not. This gives the law abiding citizen the ability to protect themselves, when needed.”


St. John also said they would be posting information about the Florida Statutes on their Facebook page in the near future, pertaining to the use of deadly force and other issues, making it easier for citizens to locate the statutes concerning these issues.


Should this bill pass, it would become effective July 1, 2023, and Florida would become the 26th state to remove the permitting process, tipping the U.S. to more than half of the states honoring our Second Amendment rights.


According to the current language of the bill, concealed weapon carriers would have to show photo ID when asked by law enforcement. If they cannot, it will be a “… noncriminal violation punishable by a $25 fine.”
Felons and others not allowed to possess firearms currently, would not be allowed to carry them if HB 543 passes.

-Map Image used by permission from USCCA and uscca.com