Will Florida see more gun restrictions in 2024 — or less?

'Let's take this in steps,' state Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Ocala, says
Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-19 17:03:33-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's next lawmaking session is fast approaching with just over 80 days and counting. After a major change in the state's gun law this year, will next year bring more or less restrictions?

At last check, Thursday, there were about 230 bills filed ahead of the 2024 legislative session — with hundreds more expected. At least 11 of them have a firearm focus.

State Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, is among the Democrats looking for new restrictions. She's again pitching Jaime's Law. The bill is named after 14-year-old Parkland victim Jaime Guttenberg, requiring background checks on anyone buying ammo.

"It doesn't interfere with a reasonable gun owner's rights in any way," Polsky said. "They're doing background checks anyway — for guns."

Polsky also wanted to tighten the safe storage of firearms. Another of her bills requires gun locks and the use of secure locations to avoid culpability in the event of a shooting.

Both ideas will be tough to get through the Legislature with a GOP-supermajority in power, keen on swatting down Second Amendment restrictions. Polsky said she has to try, regardless.

"You just have to do what's right," Polsky said. "That's what I was elected for, and people know that it's probably not going to happen, but in other parts of the country, the conversation is changing."

Other ideas that Democrats are pitching include:

  • Cutting back "Stand Your Ground" protections
  • Prohibition on large capacity magazines
  • Restrictions on having a gun in places like hospitals, churches and government buildings 

On the other side of the gavel, Republicans have offered little to date. There is one idea that could shorten waiting periods for guns. However, many wonder if the GOP will do what some wanted earlier this year and didn't get — the permitless, open carrying of guns.

State Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Ocala, poured some water on the idea when we spoke earlier this summer. It was after he helped make last session's compromise happen — permitless concealed carry.

"If it's concealed, you're not a target," Payne said. "If you're carrying a gun exposed, open carry, which so many wanted, open carry, I just think that that makes you a target."

Payne told us Florida should take a beat before plunging forward and noted the current law, which he called "reasonable" had support from the NRA and the Florida Sheriffs Association.

"Let's take this in steps," Payne said. "We have some on the extreme right that say we didn't go far enough, and those on the left that [said] we went too far. I think we found a good landing spot for this."

Whether his colleagues agree remains to be seen. While nothing appears to be in the works on open carry at the moment, time has a way of changing things in Tallahassee as the legislative session nears.