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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and 90.7 WMFE.

Veterans speak out against Florida's new permitless carry law

Handheld guns for sale in a Bass Pro Shop.
Anna Jones
Handheld guns for sale in a Bass Pro Shop.

On July 1, thousands of legal Florida gun owners will no longer need a state permit to carry their weapons concealed. The new law also removes a requirement that gun owners undergo training. Even now, the measure is still under heavy criticism.

Austin Potts, 23, was deployed to Afghanistan when he was 19 years old. He says that experience taught him a lot of lessons, including the importance of gun safety—something that is no longer required under the state’s new permitless carry law, which eliminated a training requirement.

Potts worries adding more guns with fewer guardrails will result in more crime.

"No one wants to try to de-escalate anymore," said Potts. "I get it, if people want to feel protected and stuff and people want to feel safe against criminals, then I understand that, but it's gonna provide access for a lot more crimes that [to] happen."

Rafael Leroux served in an infantry combat unit for six years. He slammed the legislation, comparing it to motorists driving without licenses on highways.

"I still think training is 100%, like, it should be done," said Leroux. "It should be shown that someone has gone through the training to be able to handle, such a thing because while guns themselves don't kill, the people that use them do."

LeRoux likened gun ownership to driving a vehicle. "We get trained to drive a car. What if they just started letting anybody buy a car and drive? You know, how many more accidents we would have?"

A U.S. Marine veteran, who didn’t want to give his name for this story, says the removal of firearm training is worrisome. He’s been deployed twice in his 10-year career:

“As a rifleman of the United States Marine Corps, one of the first things we learn is firearm safety," he said. "There is a lot that goes on before we are even handed a weapon, and for this bill to come and remove every aspect of training and just give such a dangerous object to someone without training, it’s not a good idea. It’s just not.”

The new law does not impact the background check and three-day waiting period processes that are required to purchase a gun in Florida. However, residents looking to carry can soon forgoe the classroom time and passage of a proficiency test. Florida is the 26th state to adopt this legislation.

Despite the state’s adoption of permitless concealed carry, several Second Amendment groups remain upset that the state did not adopt an open carry law. Law enforcement groups such as the Florida Sheriffs Association oppose open carry.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.