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Why Our Florida Legislators Need Help with Constitutional Carry

January 26, 2022

The Florida Legislature might consider a Constitutional Carry, or permit-optional bill. That would let citizens with a clean criminal record carry firearms in public without first getting a state permit. The only people who can legally carry without a permit are the same ones who could legally get their permit. That sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. Any discussion of guns and violence is complicated. Firearms are both a tool of criminal violence and a tool of self-defense. Also, we are not machines so we come with opinions and fears. We can talk about facts but we also have to look at our own glib answers. The great news is that we can save thousands of lives each year in Florida by letting honest citizens go armed.

Before we dive in we should agree on a few simple truths.

First, honest citizens like us are used to following the rules. Criminals are not like that. One of the first things law enforcement officers learn is that criminals don’t obey the law.

Second, violent crime happens and it can happen to us. If you think about it, you probably know someone who was the victim of a violent crime. In Florida, more than 80 thousand of us are victims of violent crime each year.

Third, we can and we do protect ourselves and the people we love. In the US each year, about 1.7 million of us defend ourselves with a firearm until the police arrive.

Rules- We want to pass more laws each time there is a violent crime. More laws let us feel in control, and politicians are eager to give us what we want. We have over 23 thousand firearms regulations in the US already. Sadly, more ink-on-paper often makes things worse rather than better.

It is comforting to pretend that an armed criminal will go to jail for a long time. We feel better after passing laws that say a criminal can’t carry a gun on the street, near schools, or on Tuesday afternoon. Please read rule one and rule two if you think that stops violent criminals. Violent crime happens and ink-on-paper doesn’t stop it.

We imagine that the police will protect us. We forget that cops ask their family to go armed because the world is dangerous.

Policemen admit they can’t stop violence and they want their family armed.

Violence- In Florida, violent crime happens over 81-thousand times each year. That works out to a little more than 200 robberies, rapes, assaults, manslaughters, and murders each day. That happens every day and everywhere. If you don’t know a victim of violent crime then you are extraordinarily lucky. It is a bad plan to count on luck to protect us from violence.

The more of us who can stop violent crime the better for the victims and the worse for the violent criminals. That is why letting honest citizens carry guns saves lives. Each year in Florida, we use a firearm in self-defense about 100-thousand times. Our armed neighbors save a lot of lives. They could save even more if we let them.

Talking about facts is easy, but now we have to talk about the fantasies we have about violence and safety. It is frightening that some people will hurt us. It is frightening that more laws won’t stop them. It is frightening that criminals carry guns no matter how many regulations we heap on the shoulders of law-abiding citizens.

We’d like to imagine that we are already safe. We don’t see guns in public except on the police and on criminals. We forget that one-in-a-dozen adults in public are legally carrying concealed. The risk of honest citizens carrying a concealed firearm is microscopic compared to the harm that criminals cause. We feel more secure clinging to the familiar fantasy of a benign world than taking an unfamiliar step that actually makes us safer.

For some of us, taking control of our own safety is terrifying.

Our fear of violence has nothing to do with letting law abiding citizens with a clean criminal record carry a concealed firearm in public without a state permit. Gun-laws control the behavior of law-abiding citizens, not of criminals.

It is dangerous when we relieve public anxiety by implementing public policy that doesn’t work.

We’d like to think that we can save lives by demanding that honest gun owners take a safety class before they can carry a gun in public. That certainly sounds good. It might reduce accidents, but it didn’t work the way we’d hoped.

We found that fewer honest people go armed when we make concealed carry permits more difficult and expensive. Being photographed, fingerprinted, going to the police to take a test, paying a hundred-dollar fee, and taking a firearms course was enough to disarm about 2.7 million Floridians. We inadvertently disarmed the good guys who later became disarmed victims. Our well-intended caution cost more lives than it saved.

The good news is that our neighbors are a lot like us. We want to do the right thing. We use a firearm for defense several thousand times for each fatal firearms accident.

We can’t solve a smaller problem by creating a larger one.

We imagine that the police won’t be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys unless we have a state permit in our pocket. We ignore that the police seldom know the history of the people they stop on the street, or the identity of the passengers in the cars they stop. The comforting news is that safety is closer than we think. Citizens who legally carry concealed firearms are extremely law abiding and non-violent.

Armed citizens also make a difference. About one-out-of-11 adults have used a firearm in self-defense. We feel responsible to do the right thing. After they passed carry-permit-optional laws in other states, the number of people taking firearms training actually went up. The reason is obvious after you think about it.

We spent more of our money on a training class when the state stopped taking so much of our money to pay for a carry permit.

I’m not exactly sure how many lives the permit-optional law will save in Florida. I looked at the crime rate and at the number of adults who have their concealed carry permit today.

 If a carry permit were optional, then each year an additional four-thousand citizens would be armed when they were attacked.

That doesn’t mean that four-thousand more people would shoot and kill the bad guys. That almost never happens. We’ve seen criminals stop their attack when an armed defender presented his firearm. That means that fewer innocent people are murdered. Fewer of us will be sexually assaulted. The bad guys usually run away when they see that their intended victim is armed.

To give us some perspective, four-thousand more cases of armed defense is more than all the lives lost on Florida’s roads each year. That is a lot of lives we can save.. and we should.

That is why our legislators need our help. We try to elect the best people into public office, but even the smartest people have more to learn. It is impossible for our representatives to know everything that we know because we have so much more experience than they do.

We can teach our Florida legislators about gun owners and carrying a firearm in public when a permit is optional. You can contact your legislators here. 



2021 firearms survey “

One out of a dozen go armed “

Criminals ignore gun stores and gun shows “

Armed citizens are non-violent “

Armed citizens are safer than the police “

Violent crime by state “

Concealed carry permits in Florida- “

Number of fatal traffic accidents-“

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