Permitless Concealed Carry Law: Families raise concerns
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
On April 3, the Governor of Florida signed a law that gives anyone in the state green light to carry a concealed loaded weapon anywhere without having a permit or training to do so or submit to background checks, except for those who under other Florida laws have already been barred from obtaining or carrying guns. This decision has raised concerns in families who fear for the safety of their children.
Said concern is not unfounded judging by the statistics on mass shootings that are reported in the country. According to a database from The Associated Press and USA Today in association with Northeastern University, since 2006 2,842 people have died for this reason, while it is estimated that so far in 2023, there has been one mass shooting every 6.53 days.
Given this scenario, Doral Family Journal spoke with seven families in South Florida to find out how they feel about the approval of this law.
Carolina Mejía: More activism, less posts on social media
“We haven’t had processed the tragedy of the Nashville shooting when they were already passing this law. It is something that one doesn’t expect from a country like this. You leave yours with a list of insecurities to find yourself in another one that is capable of signing something like this. Who else must die?” says this Mexican mother of two children.
In her opinion, this creates high levels of anxiety in children. “Then we ask ourselves, why is my son biting his nails? No wonder, if they must go through school drills in case an armed man comes in to kill them, in what head this is normal? I don’t do homeschooling because I have to work.”
The saddest part, says Carolina, is that what is behind this law is money. “The gun industry is a multi-billion dollar one and it seems like it is way above the lives that have been lost. For this reason, the solution is to put pressure on leaders so that these laws do not continue to pass.”
“We have to keep fighting; we can’t just give up in the face of this. It is imperative to join organizations that are working towards ending school massacres or having gun control and actively participate in the activities they organize.”
Yatzu Dávila: Every right is limited
As a mother who carries a gun and had to take an exam to obtain her license, Yatzu can’t believe this law has passed. “It clears the path so that anyone without any knowledge of weapons can carry one and that puts us all in danger.”
According to the Doral resident, who is the mother of four children, those who hide behind the argument that all citizens of this country have the right to carry a gun ignore the responsibility that this entails.
“I think the issue has a political engine. It is time to stop voting based on a party and evaluate important issues such as why we allow emotionally unstable people to have access to, for example, an assault rifle,” she says.
This lack of control makes children especially vulnerable, who often suffer the consequences of the laws that are passed. “They have frightened all of us parents. The only thing we can do is continue protesting, vote with more awareness and send messages to our representatives.”
Ian Lee: Less control, more guns on the streets
“As a parent, I find any law that puts more guns in the hands of more people who shouldn’t be handling guns terrifying. It’s unsettling to know that I can be around someone who just with an ID and without training can walk around with a gun,” says Lee, who has two girls.
Ian knows what he is talking about. As the son of a military man, he has been shooting guns since he was 9 years old, and he underwent a process to obtain a concealed weapons permit. “When I was training to get my license, I met many individuals who did very dangerous maneuvers because they had never held a weapon in their hands. It scared me knowing that these people would go out on the streets without any experience.”
However, it was reassuring for him to know that at least they were doing their homework as they were being trained. “Now many things can happen that have not been anticipated. For example, two people may be fighting in the street and if one of them has a concealed weapon, even without intending to use it, they may fire it in a moment of rage.”
When it comes to how he feels about his children’s safety, he states passing gun laws has become more important than keeping children safe. “On top of that they have to go through active shooter drills. One of my daughters told me the other day: ‘Dad, I thought I was going to die today. I was locked in the bathroom with my classmates crying’, after one of these drills. It is unacceptable to cause that stress to a child and that is why I will transfer the one who is in a public school to a private one like the one where her sister is, she will not be safer there, but at least free from these practices.”
Evelyn Colón: More weapons, less resources for mental health
As a mother of two children, her main fear is that this law puts them at greater risk in any public space. “What is going to happen to all those adults who have access to guns and are not responsible enough to keep them in a safe place? What is going to happen to children who find these weapons and carry them around,” he questions himself.
In her opinion, at a time when the rates of anxiety and depression are higher than ever, there should be more concern about teaching people to manage conflict than around clearing the path for them to be armed. “I don’t see the link between this measure and the protection of people, especially children. What is the logic behind this.”
However, despite the helplessness she feels in the face of this decision, she believes that we can take preventive measures. “Parents, make sure kids don’t get access to guns and ammunition, have serious conversations with them about the real risk of laying a hand on a gun, and encourage open communication at home.”
In addition, she believes that people should take a more responsible role at the polls. “The politicians who approved this law were chosen by us. We can’t continue to vote for people based on a political party and not knowing how they think about guns. No one should grow up thinking that they are not safe in their own school, this is very bad for a minor on a psychological level, and we would have to assess this when voting.” she concludes.
Carolina Carvajal: We are the problem, not guns
“When this law was approved, children were not thought of,” says this mother of two little ones who always tries to keep this reality out of their way so that they don’t have additional stress. “In the community I live in, we don’t talk about weapons or violence. They only know that we don’t approve weapons and we don’t even buy them as toys.”
She says that her decision to put them in a private school had to do with the fact that she disapproves of her children growing up in the custody of police as is the case in public schools. “My children are in a school where there is no need for that, as it should be.”
But outside of the school setting, she worries about unstable people carrying a gun. “I come from a violent country like Colombia and here I feel more exposed at the moment because there are many unbalanced people walking around. The power that a weapon holds in the hands of someone with mental issues is perverse, it is worse than the power held by someone who keeps it safely stored and knows that it is there only for an emergency.”
She adds that the solution is to control access to weapons. “The problem is not the weapon but who carries it. As parents we have to be informed and know our environment. If we had more sense of community, there would be fewer mental health problems and guns wouldn’t be as dangerous.”
Carolina Van Pampus: More access, more violence
“Something tells me that the purpose of this law has nothing to do with security and everything to do with politics. It seems illogical to me the argument of some that in order to fight gun violence we must allow more access to guns,” says the mother of two girls.
She believes that it would be more effective if resources were allocated in teaching people to manage their emotions. “Why don’t they create laws that give parents peace of mind? My eldest daughter is on a charter where they do active shooter drills almost weekly, we shouldn’t be living like this.”
Although her daughter takes these drills as a game, for her this is a source of stress. “I feel my hands are tied in the face of this problem. For this reason, I collaborate with organizations that do activism to prevent these types of laws from being approved, I think this is one of the things that we can do as citizens because sitting around waiting for things to change is of no use.”
She states that if she could take her daughters out of school to do homeschooling instead, she would without hesitation, because she knows this would give her more peace. “I can’t because we need two salaries at home. But I refuse to live in fear, so this is a topic I’ve dropped. I invite political leaders to think of children when they make these decisions.”
Santo Musumeci: More stress, less security
This father of two school-age children is concerned about the excess of freedom in the state. “This law is only going to increase the episodes of madness that we are already experiencing with shootings,” he comments.
He considers that it is an additional source of uncertainty that families do not need. “These scares me a lot. When they call me from my children’s school, my mind immediately thinks that something bad happened.”
Despite his anguish, Santo has always tried to shield his 4 and 9-year-old children from this issue. He just tells them to follow the teachers’ directions when they are practicing active shooter drills, a practice that children living in the United States have had to get used to.
However, he thinks that the passing of this law does not put them in greater danger at school. “They go to a public school and although it has crossed my mind to do homeschooling, I think that a shooting could happen anywhere. I am hopeful that there will be changes in this law, I cannot understand why they don’t evaluate the mental capacity of each person to handle a weapon.”