Florida’s New Permitless Carry Law hasn’t Killed Interest in Concealed Carry Classes

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AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

Though lawful gun owners in the Sunshine State no longer need to possess a state-issued concealed carry license in order to lawfully bear arms, firearms instructors in Florida say they’re still seeing plenty of interest from gun owners who are signing up for training. That doesn’t surprise me too much, since the those who choose to carry a firearm for self-defense have a vested interest in being comfortable and competent when they do so, but it’s still a good sign as well as a refutation of the gun control advocates who predicted that scores of Floridians would decide to start carrying without the slightest bit of training simply because they can.

‘We have seen an increase in sales with the permitless carry. We’re also seeing significant numbers in our concealed weapons class. Yes, there has been an increase in sales now that DeSantis signed the permitless carry,’ said Robert Geisler with Florida Gun Shows.

Although a permit is not required to conceal a weapon, Robert Geisler mentions that they offer concealed carry classes and still consider it a good idea to take them.

‘There are 30-plus states where you’re allowed to carry with a concealed carry permit from Florida. If you don’t have the permit, you can’t do that. It’s also good because we go over where you can and can’t carry and when you should and shouldn’t pull a weapon. So, we highly encourage still getting your permit,’ Geisler added.

While the permitless carry law hasn’t killed off interest in obtaining concealed carry licenses, some defense attorneys are hoping that the new statute will help their clients avoid criminal penalties for carrying before the law took effect.

Up until the last day of June, police officers were making arrests for concealed carry violations, which carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Attorneys say their clients are being treated unfairly by the system, even though the new law wasn’t retroactive.

“It would seem to be patently unfair that if somebody committed a crime on June 30th, and they do the same exact set of facts on July 1, that July 1 it’s not a crime at all,” attorney Eben Self said.

Unfair though it might be, the previous carry statute was in effect until July 1, so it was a crime to carry without a permit before then. As long as we’re talking about pure possession cases involving individuals who are now able to carry without the need for a permit, and not those that also have underlying violent crimes associated with that charge or individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms in the first place, I don’t have any issue with judges either dismissing these cases or sending them to pre-trial diversion to allow them to wipe their records clean, but it sounds like the state’s judges are still trying to figure out how to handle these cases.

Self and defense attorney Roger Weeden said judges in Orange and Osceola counties have been internally discussing how to handle the motions to dismiss that attorneys are filing.

“The judges have been conferencing,” Weeden said. “Apparently, they want the chief judge of the criminal division to essentially handle these motions.”

Representatives in State Attorney Monique Worrell’s office said they have communicated with officials in Tallahassee about how to interpret the law and how to navigate the cases.

They too confirmed some sort of deal may be hammered out by the circuit’s judges, chiefly around whether all the cases – with the same arguments for each — should be handled at one time or separately.

“There exists the possibility that a future en banc hearing by the Ninth Circuit Court trial divisions in Orlando will result in a speedy legal resolution of the remaining cases,” a spokesman wrote, using language that described a hearing with all the circuit’s criminal judges present.

Bearing arms without a government permission slip shouldn’t be cause to lose your right to keep and bear arms forevermore, which is what’s at risk for those defendants facing felony charges. I’m curious to see how the courts will handle this thorny issue, but with these cases still active we shouldn’t have to wait too long to see what the judges decide is the most appropriate and just outcome.

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