As out-of-state students return to the campus, many are unaware or nervous about the sunshine state’s recent conceal carry weapons bill (House Bill 543) passed into law over the summer. Concealed carry means to publically carry a legally owned firearm in a manner that is not visible to passersby.
Signed in the spring by Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida is the 26th state to pass a permitless carry bill.
As of July 1st, those 21 and older in Florida are able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit , special training or a background check. Concealed weapons remain prohibited in many places detailed in the bill like police stations, court rooms, athletic events, establishments primarily for liquor sale, school facilities and more defined in statutes 823.05 and 790.15.
The owner needs to have a valid form of identification and must also be a legal US citizen or permanent resident with no prior felonies or substance abuse charges.
Despite these exceptions, some students are feeling uneasy about the law going into effect.
Junior Jon Martins who’s studying public health and is a new resident of South Florida, was initially unaware that this law had gone into effect.
“It’s pretty concerning,” Martins said. “It’s a lot more access to these guns and weapons that I find kind of unnecessary.”
As reported by the Giffords Law Center, states with reduced public carry see between 13 and 15 percent higher rates in violent crimes and an 11 percent higher homicides rates via handguns.
Gabe Viaud, a junior studying Global Health, was also surprised to hear about the news. Viaud typically stays up to date on issues regarding gun laws, and took a Writing for Digital Age course at UM that discussed gun laws in regards to the book, Parkland: Birth of a Movement.
“We talked about how hard it was to reform gun rights like that. But it’s hard to actually fathom or actually picture [the law] being changed in the present day,” Viaud said.
Though a majority of undergraduate students are under 21 and cannot legally obtain a firearm, Viaud voiced his concerns.
“I’d like to think that the university is safe, but I also thought that high schools are safe and then you see all those stories on the news about them getting shot up,” Viaud said.
Other students aren’t shocked — considering Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature.
“I’m not surprised what the NRA and government is doing,” Neuroscience major and President of Asian American Students Association Ann Sia said. “A lot of really conservative views push the idea that more guns would protect us, however, I feel like more guns just contribute to the problem.”
Sia’s father, who shoots recreationally, has always been an advocate for gun safety. As a Florida native, her concern lies in the lack of background checks.
“I’m not saying no one should have guns, but it’s more about how they’re regulated,” Sia said. “I feel you have to go through training, you have to grow through background checks.”
Special training classes are offered for those who’d like to educate themselves before obtaining a firearm. General manager of Florida Guns Shows Robert Geisler admitted to already seeing a reduction in signups.
When asked if he felt the bill was a step in the right direction, Martins disagreed, stating that he doesn’t believe new gun owners would follow through with the special training course — that he says is crucial to ensuring public safety.
“You have all these kids growing up playing Call of Duty, PUB G —I don’t have to do something, I’m not gonna do it — I didn’t have to do the SAT, I didn’t take it,” Viaud said.