On 1 July (about two weeks off!) it will no longer be necessary to have a Concealed Weapons Carry Permit to pack heat in the state of Florida. Anyone not expressly forbidden to own a firearm (that is, convicted felons) will be able to wander around in public with a handgun hidden on their person. Some sites are still declared gun-free zones, such as establishments where alcohol is served, polling places, medical establishments, schools, or the Florida State Senate (where this bill was passed into law).
It used to be you could not carry a concealed weapon without a permit, which was issued on a limited basis (your job required you to carry one, your business involved carrying about large amounts of cash, etc.) It was legal to keep a firearm in your home or vehicle, but not on your person. However, a few years back, a special law was passed allowing anyone without a criminal record to get a permit, providing he had a background check and some minimal training. I got one because I did not want to leave my pistol in a hot car while I was out doing my business. Basically, the program was designed to let anyone who wasn’t a felon carry a gun in public places legally. If you were challenged by a cop, you could flash your permit and not have your gun confiscated. If you didn’t have a permit, your gun would be confiscated and they would have an excuse to arrest you if they chose to, even if you were not committing any crime. The law was clearly designed to give cops an excuse to harass blacks (or anyone else they considered a potential troublemaker) with guns and make them felons. It was believed most blacks were either already felons or couldn’t afford a permit (did I say it costs about $75 to pass the NRA-administered “exam”?). The exam and training consisted of having several brochures of gun laws read to you, watching a Power-Point, and firing a half-dozen rounds at a paper target. Even though I was exempt from the NRA fee due to my veteran status, I was still told I had to cough up the cash if I wanted them to sign off on my permit. To be fair, I must concede the NRA dude who administered the procedure was black. Incidentally, the NRA fee was not my only expense to get a permit. I had to pay for my photograph, fingerprints, processing fees, etc, and run around to get all those things done. In short, its a pain in the ass to get a permit, unless you have the kind of job that will let you take time off to run errands during working hours.
So by July 1, it will no longer be necessary for me to have a permit to legally carry a concealed firearm in Florida. BTW, I should point out there never has been any gun “registration” in the state of Florida. I need not prove the gun was legally purchased or even that it belongs to me. Its not clear what will happen if you are stopped for some other reason and a gun is found in your possession. I suppose unless you are a suspect and actually arrested, you will not even have to prove you are entitled to carry. They will just let you go if you are not on the convicted felon’s list, or if the gun in your possession is not listed as stolen.
I suspect there will be problems with this law. The cops have long used finding a gun in your vehicle or person (even in your house) as an excuse to arrest you, and strictly speaking, they will not be able to do this any more unless they can determine you broke a law, you’re a convicted felon, or your piece was stolen. Of course, they can still haul you in and you will have to convince a judge of your innocence. But that will mean paperwork, inconvenience, and money, even if you are innocent.