On Tuesday, DeSantis signed the bill, HB 259, allowing concealed carry holders to possess firearms on their persons for church, synagogue, and mosque defense, and it took effect immediately after being signed.
This new law does not infringe upon the private property rights of religious institutions to determine whether or not they will permit firearms on their grounds. While pro-gun organization Florida Gun Rights says the legislation is a “step in the right direction” to expand Second Amendment protections, even supporters of the bill say it “doesn’t go far enough” to make Constitutional Carry the law of the land.
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Constitutional Carry allows citizens to legally carry a handgun open or concealed without a license or permit. Matt Collins, Director of Legislation for Florida Gun Rights, says, “Constitutional Carry is the law in 21 other states but where does Governor Ron DeSantis stand on this critical issue? So far he has been silent,” (WFLA).
A church firearm carrier made national news in 2019 for stopping a gunman who opened fire during a service at West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas one Sunday morning. Although the suspect fatally shot two members of the congregation, senior minister of the church Britt Farmer said, “it could have been a lot worse.” More than 200 people were attending the service at the time of the shooting (ABC).
The Texas Tribune reports that Governor Greg Abbott recently signed HB 1927, eliminating the requirement for licenses to carry handguns for all Texans after September 1, 2021. HB 259 comes just a few days after President Biden’s June 23 comments on gun violence: “And I might add: The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon…If you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons,” (WTOK).
The summer of 2020 saw an increase in murders and overall violent crime across cities of all sizes, statistics that have remained startlingly high during the first months of 2021. Oakland in particular, with a population of about 400,000 residents, saw an uptick in homicides by about 30 additional victims last year (The Guardian). This city, located in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, currently faces turmoil as local politicians deflate the police department’s budget by more than $17 million, the New York Post reports.