Florida Senate Republican files ‘constitutional carry’ bill

Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, filed bill Thursday

Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, pictured here in a still from a video uploaded to his Facebook page on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Jay Collins)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Senate Republican on Thursday filed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed firearms without licenses, after the issue started moving forward this week in the House.

The bill, filed by Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, also includes other proposals such as requirements related to school safety.

Florida has long required people to obtain state licenses to carry concealed weapons. The bill (SB 150) would eliminate that requirement, though people carrying concealed weapons would have to carry valid identification and “display such identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.”

The House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law, & Government Operations Subcommittee on Tuesday approved a bill (HB 543) that would make the concealed-weapons changes — a concept that supporters call “constitutional carry.”

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While the House bill is limited to that issue, the Senate bill includes school-safety proposals. As an example, the Senate bill would allow private schools to participate in Florida’s controversial “guardian” program, which allows school staff members to be armed on campuses, and would create the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program, which would be designed to help add firearm-detection dogs.

“This comprehensive legislation ensures our laws respect the constitutional rights of law-abiding Floridians while at the same time incorporating valuable tools recommended by law enforcement that will increase the safety of our schools and communities,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said in a prepared statement.

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