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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that constitutional carry will be law in Florida. So, what does this mean for felons and Floridians? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Constitutional Carry?

Gov. DeSantis has made it clear that he wants Florida to be the center of a new conservative agenda. He announce in April his intentions to sight a constitutional carry law for firearms in the coming months before the election. So, what is constitutional carry?

According to gun rights activists, constitutional carry means that state law does not prohibit residents from possessing a firearm and carrying it openly. Under this law, there would be no permits required for concealed carry and unless imposed by the state legislature, there are no conditions to open carry. This law only applies to handguns, not semi or fully automatic weapons and rifles.

The idea of concealed carry is based on the Second Amendment to the Constitution which says that every citizen has the right to bear arms thus the name “constitutional carry.” The law is different from permitless carry which has more restrictions on age and criminal history to carry a weapon.

Florida’s New Rules

Gov. DeSantis has not signed anything into law quite yet, but he intends to do so before the election. He told the media,

“The one thing I wanted the legislature to do and I think we will do it, I can’t say exactly when, I’m pretty confident I will be able to sign constitutional carry into law in the state of Florida.”

Support and Dissenters

Supporters of constitutional carry are optimistic about freedoms it could bring. Permits can be hard to get, and some gun activists want to make a statement to the rest of the world that restrictions and gun control are not something to be feared but encouraged.

However, some legislators are less than pleased about the Governor’s announcement. State Representative Anna Eskamani sees constitutional carry as a threat to public safety. For her and others, unlimited and unrestricted access to firearms means that instead of vetting gun owners before giving them a concealed carry permit, those who would normally be denied may now could purchase and openly carry a firearm. Some law enforcement officers are also concerned that this law could negatively impact public safety.

Rep. Eskamani said in a public statement: “This is absurd political pandering from the Governor of a state that has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history and in a nation where we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world.”

Caught in the Middle

There is one group who is stuck between DeSantis and his dissenters: felons. Those convicted of a felony in Florida cannot carry or possess a firearm. Possession is twofold: it may be actual possession meaning the person is holding a gun or constructive meaning they know about a gun hidden in their house. Both types of possession are illegal and breaking the law could result in further felony charges.

The penalties for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon include:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to 15 years on probation
  • Up to $10,000 in fines to the court

These are serious charges that could put felons who have served their sentences back behind bars.

So far, Gov. DeSantis has not said anything about whether constitutional carry will apply to felons, but it seems as though it will be unlikely based on his voting record and past remarks. As a staunch opponent to criminal justice reform, DeSantis has made it clear that he does not support abolition or reform in any way.

Until the law is signed, it will be unclear how extensive the constitutional carry privilege will be and to whom it will apply.

If you have been convicted of a crime in Florida, contact the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A. to find out how we can fight for you.

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