President Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2023
Senate Passes Public Safety Package, Codifying Constitutional Right of Citizens to Keep and Bear Arms
HB 543 expands tools available to keep communities and schools safe
The Florida Senate today passed House Bill 543, Public Safety, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa). This robust public safety package codifies the constitutional right of citizens to keep and bear arms and expands tools available to law enforcement and educators working to keep our communities and schools safe.
“This comprehensive legislation ensures our laws respect the constitutional rights of law-abiding Floridians while at the same time incorporating valuable tools recommended by law enforcement that will increase the safety of our schools and communities,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples). “I stand with Florida’s sheriffs and with decorated members of our military like Senator Collins and Speaker Renner who agree that eliminating the need for a concealed weapons license in the state of Florida will help more Floridians better protect themselves and their families. This legislation will also help keep our schools safe by making sure we swiftly identify threats and get more kids the services they need to live a safe and successful life.”
SB 150 eliminates the need for a concealed weapons license in the state of Florida. The bill does not affect laws relating to the purchase of a firearm and will not allow anyone prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry concealed. Florida continues to require full and complete background checks when a firearm is purchased. That requirement was expanded in 2018, requiring a three-day waiting period for all kinds of firearms, not just handguns, or until the background check is completed, whichever is later. Moreover, a person carrying concealed without a license will still be required to obey existing laws prohibiting carrying in places like schools, certain athletic events, and correctional facilities, among others.
“Here in Florida under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families. As a retired U.S. Army Green Beret, I’ve been blessed to serve shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our constitutional freedoms. I’ve also been deployed to countries where oppressed people have lived their entire lives under tyrannical regimes with no ability to safeguard their loved ones. I believe we have an obligation to respect their sacrifice by protecting our God-given and Constitutional rights here at home,” said Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa).
EXPANDING COMMUNITY AND SCHOOL SAFETY TOOLS
Standardized Threat Management
The Office of Safe Schools must develop a behavioral threat management operational process which will guide public and charter schools in identifying, assessing, managing, and monitoring potential and real threats. The bill also requires the office to create a Florida specific behavioral threat instrument which will help evaluate the behavior of students who may pose a very serious threat to the school, school staff or students and coordinate intervention and services for the students and parents. When a serious incident or behavior occurs, the school’s threat management team must prepare a threat assessment report. The report and all corresponding documentation are education records which are electronically maintained in the threat management portal, which is a secure and confidential portal that will facilitate standardized documentation of threat information.
Expands the Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel Guardian Program to Private Schools
The bill allows private schools to establish a Guardian Program and participate in the necessary training, provided the school pays for all of the training costs. The bill also allows private schools to assign safe school officers to their facilities.
Active Assailant Response Policy
All law enforcement agencies in Florida must have an active assailant response policy by October 1, 2023, with required annual training.
Florida Safe Schools Canine Program
The bill creates the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program for the purpose of designating a person, school, or business entity as a Florida Safe Schools Canine Partner who pays for or raises funds for a law enforcement agency to purchase, train, or care for a firearm detection dog. These dogs contribute to a safe and welcoming school community, furthering a community-wide investment and engagement in school safety and public safety initiatives. The program seeks to foster relationships between schools, local businesses, and law enforcement, promoting trust and confidence in the ability of law enforcement to keep schools and communities safe. Firearm dogs act as liaisons between students and law enforcement agencies and serve as ambassadors for a law enforcement agency to improve community engagement. K-12 schools and students are encouraged to partner with law enforcement to fundraise in the local community for donations to purchase, train, or care for the dog.