TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Following the shooting deaths of a broadcast journalist, 9-year-old and a 38-year-old woman near Orlando on Wednesday, there is renewed frustration in Washington, D.C., and also from some at the state Capitol as the GOP-controlled Legislature moves closer to approving permitless carry this year.
The policy allows legal gun owners to carry concealed without the state's currently required permit or training.
Democrats, including the Biden administration, have denounced the idea. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called Florida's permitless carry legislation the "opposite of common sense gun safety," Thursday afternoon.
"The people of Florida — who have paid a steep price for state and congressional inaction on guns, from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills — deserve better," Jean-Pierre said.
Fellow Democrats in Tallahassee echoed the press secretary's concerns. State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, recently tried to amend the permitless carry bill by adding a community violence task force. It failed on party lines.
"The news reporter that was murdered just doing his job — he was a young man, his future ahead of him," she said. "Now, he's not going to be able to live anymore because we're not doing something about the guns."
From the get-go, Florida Republicans have argued their measure will bolster safety. They believe the bill ensures gun owners can more easily protect themselves by eliminating a "government permission slip."
Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa is among them. He passed along condolences to the victims of the recent violence but said the shooting wasn't giving him pause.
"No," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is criminals do not follow laws. Taking away the ability for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves does nothing to stop criminals from breaking the law."
Despite the ongoing criticism, Florida's GOP supermajority is expected to make quick work of the permitless carry bill when they return for the regular session on March 7. Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to sign it before leaving office.
While DeSantis didn't address the permitless carry legislation, his office did offer a statement to Spectrum's News 13 television station following the loss of their employee:
"Susan, News13 Reporters, and Employees,
"We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to all of you following the murder of your colleague Dylan Lyons. There are no words to express the anguish and outrage that we and all good-hearted Floridians feel over this senseless killing of a young man living out his dream. We too want this murderer to be quickly brought to justice, and to know that the Lyons family and all of you at News13 and in the greater Orlando community are in our thoughts and prayers."
- Executive Office of the Governor Communications Team