A bill in the Florida House that would do away with Florida’s concealed weapons permitting process has the strong support of State Rep. Jason Shoaf, and while a companion bill in the Florida Senate has yet to be filed, State Sen. Loranne Ausley does not share his enthusiasm.
House Bill 103, a measure filed as it has in years past by Howey-in-the-Hill Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, would remove laws that require a concealed-weapons permit in Florida.
“State government should not be in the business of taxing and licensing law-abiding citizens for carrying firearms,” Shoaf said. “I will be wholeheartedly supporting it. A government entity should not be able to say you can’t have guns.”
Since the end product has yet to be marked up in committee, it is as yet unclear the extent to which the bill would allow public display of firearms, with no restrictions, and Shoaf has some reservations about unfettered open carry.
“I think it’s one of the topics I have found oftentimes there is a confusion about what that actually means. It runs the gamut,” he said.
Shoaf said he believes the Constitution grants citizens the right to carry pistols or rifles open and exposed. “You could walk right down Water Street with an AR-15,” he said, while stressing that after watching YouTube videos where “people show up in a playground with an AR-15 just to get attention, I find that abhorrent and reckless and childish.
“It complicates this issue,” he said.
At the end of last year, there were 1,564 concealed weapons permits being held by Franklin County residents, and 2,434 in Gulf County.
Shoaf said he believes the issuing of these permits “as a revenue-generating tool and a way to create a registry is illegal.
“We don’t have a knife registry. We don’t track other things that are involved in more accidental deaths,” he said.
Shoaf said permitting regulations can be a benefit to law enforcement, but said responsible gun owners keep a careful record of serial numbers of their weapons in the event one is stolen.
“Yes, they do aid in crime fighting,” he said, “And so do ballistics and so do a ton of other things,”
Shoaf said in limited instances he supports curtailing firearms from government buildings, and believes the government should give the private sector the right to exclude them from their premises.
“I don’t think they should be in our K-12 system, and not in the hands of felons. I don’t think we should force private property owners to accept them,” he said.
“I believe in this country the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” Shoaf said. “I’m very hardcore on this, extremely rock solid.”
Included in his opposition to government mandates regarding firearms, he opposes so-called “red flag” laws, which permit law enforcement or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person they contend is a danger to themselves or others.
“I would love to see them overturned, I’m not a fan of red flag laws,” he said. “I would like to see red flag legislation removed in our state, and I hope i can accomplish (that) while I’m in the legislature,”
While Ausley’s chamber of the Florida legislature has yet to see a companion bill filed, the state senator said she supports Florida’s Concealed Carry Weapons process and the gun safety training that is required to obtain a permit.
“If anything, we need more training, not less,” she said. “The one-time four-hour training is simply not enough to ensure that people carrying firearms are able to do so safely and effectively.”
Republican parties in Suwanee, Seminole, Indian River, and Bay counties have passed resolutions in support of the House Bill, which they term “Constitutional Carry.”