Let's make Florida the 'Gunshine State' | Opinion

·3 min read

Ensuring the people have the ability to fully exercise their Second Amendment rights is the chief concern of Gun Owners of America. That’s why we have long championed the enactment of constitutional carry in state legislatures across this country, including earlier this year in neighboring Georgia and Alabama.

Heeding our calls to finally get it done here in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has made clear that he will sign this policy into law before he leaves office. We stand strongly behind him in this effort to live up to the freedoms embodied in the Second Amendment.

So what is constitutional carry? In layman’s terms, it’s nothing more than returning to the people a historically recognized and constitutionally guaranteed right to carry arms for self-defense in their own communities. Put more simply, it allows the people to exercise their rights without jumping through hoops to secure permission from the government.

Leftists scream and make dishonest claims that this will give criminals more access to guns or will lead to more violent confrontations on the streets. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Luis Valdes
Luis Valdes

It’s the radical Democrat policies of defunding police and releasing criminals from prison — or refusing to charge them at all — that have resulted in the spike in violent crime we have all seen. Constitutional carry would make no changes to existing laws on acquiring a firearm, and possession of one would remain expressly prohibited for convicted felons.

Additionally, 25 states already have constitutional carry on the books, and we have yet to see the conclusive academic studies that reinforce its dangers or the liberal assertions of “Wild West shootouts” materializing in the streets.

In fact, research from the Crime Prevention Research Center, a research and education organization that does not accept donations from gun or ammunition manufacturers or any organizations on either side of the gun control debate, shows the opposite is true. After the passage of constitutional carry laws, states tend to see a decrease in violent crime and a statistically significant drop in the murder rate.

Let me also briefly address two other objections raised by the anti-gun crowd: that some police oppose constitutional carry and that it will hurt our tourism industry.

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First, I can tell you as a former street cop that there’s nothing more reassuring than knowing good people are armed for the protection of themselves and their communities. And again, the research indicates that there is no increase in the number of officers killed after these laws pass.

Additionally, I know I’m not the only one who has worn the badge in Florida who supports constitutional carry. Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey has publicly stated that he fully supports constitutional carry and open carry. As the county’s chief law enforcement officer for an agency servicing more than 600,000 residents, Sheriff Ivey understands that constitutional carry in no way poses a danger to his deputies or the public.

Scenes at the Melbourne rally. Brevard United Against Gun Violence. County wide peaceful sign waving rallies were held in Titusville, Cocoa, Melbourne and Palm Bay.
Scenes at the Melbourne rally. Brevard United Against Gun Violence. County wide peaceful sign waving rallies were held in Titusville, Cocoa, Melbourne and Palm Bay.

Second, I have yet to see any compelling evidence that tourism has suffered in the 25 states that have enacted constitutional carry. And, as I recall, the policies of deregulation, low taxes and letting free people make their own decisions have actually significantly boosted tourism and permanent migration to places like Texas and our beautiful Florida.

Lastly, just to highlight the popularity of constitutional carry, not one of the 25 states with the policy on its books has even held a hearing, let alone a vote, to repeal its law.

We at Gun Owners of America stand behind Gov. DeSantis in truly making Florida a haven for the Second Amendment. Let’s make the Sunshine State the “Gunshine State.”

It’s time to recognize that the arguments against constitutional carry are little more than the unhinged rantings of radicals. Restoring this inherent right to the people will reduce crime, further boost tourism and strengthen our constitutional liberties.

Luis Valdes is the Florida state director for Gun Owners of America. A native of Miami and a former police officer, Valdes is a U.S. Army veteran and a first-generation Cuban American.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: It's time to make Florida the 'Gunshine State' | Opinion