OPINION: Protect people, not guns

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to pass “constitutional carry” into law, but with gun violence in the country, it’s fuel to the fire. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

Gov. Ron DeSantis promised that the Florida Legislature will pass “constitutional carry” into law at his April 29 press conference in Levy County. This is something that would promote irresponsibility and violence in the wake of the recent Uvalde, Texas school shooting.

Constitutional carry is the legal right in the U.S. to carry a firearm without a permit or license, as defined by the Concealed Carry Society. This means, if passed, Floridians will be able to buy and carry firearms without taking a training course or earning a permit.

Though DeSantis hasn’t put a date on when he’ll sign it into law, he assured Floridians that he would do so before his time ends as governor.

This law is the last thing Florida needs. In the midst of daily gun violence, our governor should make it safer to obtain guns, rather than encouraging those who are untrained to get their hands on them.

Current Florida gun laws don’t require a permit, license or registration for buying a gun, according to FindLaw

A license is needed for concealed carry, and background checks are performed on people looking to buy a gun. Those under the age of 18, or those with a violent criminal record under Florida law, aren’t allowed to purchase firearms.

There’s also no limit on the number of firearms you can own or buy in a single transaction. These laws aren’t nearly strict enough, and constitutional carry will only further loosen these restrictions.

Florida has restrictions on concealed carry and open carry, which aren’t the same as constitutional carry, but there is overlap.

Open carry allows for publicly carrying a legally owned firearm in plain sight and is currently banned in Florida. Concealed carry allows people to publicly carry a legally owned firearm hidden from view, and currently requires special training and a license before it’s allowed.

Constitutional carry allows both, without permits, licensing or training. We need more firearm restrictions, not more leniency, with the violence this country faces daily.

Proponents of constitutional carry argue that good citizens need ways to defend themselves from shootings. There’s no solid evidence that using a gun in self-defense reduces the likelihood of injury, according to David Hemenway, a health policy professor at Harvard.

“There’s evidence that having a gun may reduce property loss, but the evidence is equally compelling that having another weapon, such as a mace or a baseball bat, will also reduce the likelihood of property loss,” Hemenway said.

Firearms were the leading cause of death for children 1-19 years old for the first time in 2020, the most recent year for which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data is available. American children are now more likely to be killed by gun violence than they are from a car accident.

Motor vehicle crashes were formerly the leading cause of death for U.S. children in that age group, killing nearly 4,000 in 2020. Guns, comparatively, killed 4,368 children that same year.

One of the most recent tragedies is the school shooting on May 25 in Uvalde, Texas. The suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, claimed 21 lives with two legally obtained semi-automatic rifles, according to Texas Sen. John Whitmire.

Ramos purchased the guns and 375 rounds of ammunition on his 18th birthday, according to Whitmire.

Despite lack of credentials, Ramos was still given access to guns.

More thorough firearm restrictions should be presented to the Florida Legislature, such as regular training check-ins and better background checks. Giving leeway to those purchasing guns is the opposite of what our state, or country, should be doing right now.