Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Dangerous Gun Laws in Florida

MAGA Republicans in Florida have driven a massive surge in gun-related violence, with gun crime increasing 20 percent since Gov. DeSantis took office.

Part of a Series
Activists participate in the second
Activists participate in the second "March for Our Lives" rally against gun violence at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida, on June 11, 2022.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) inherited low violent crime rates when he took office in 2019, but his term as Florida governor has been marked by a massive surge in gun-related violence. Indeed, from 2019 to 2020, violent crime incidents involving guns rose 20 percent, the number of firearm-related homicides surged 21 percent, and the proportion of manslaughter cases involving a firearm increased by 107 percent. As of 2020, guns were the most common weapon used in aggravated assaults in Florida—the first time this has happened since collection of data began in 1995.

Even with Florida’s shockingly high number of gun-related deaths, Gov. DeSantis and Sen. Rubio are pushing to weaken gun laws even further.

Despite the increase in gun crime, Florida Sens. Rick Scott (R) and Marco Rubio (R) both voted against federal legislation to keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers and other dangerous people. And at the state level, Gov. DeSantis has loosened regulations on firearms and blocked commonsense safety measures—including by rebuking attempts by Democrats in the state to hold a special legislative session to address gun violence following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Now, Florida’s MAGA Republicans are poised to make gun crime even worse. Gov. DeSantis has promised to enact dangerous permitless concealed carry legislation, which is associated with increases in violent crime and murder. Sen. Rubio, meanwhile, has continued to oppose universal criminal background checks on gun sales, even though they would save Floridians’ lives and reduce violent crime.

Gun violence in Florida: By the numbers

20%

Increase in violent crime incidents involving guns from 2019 to 2020

21%

Increase in the number of firearm-related homicides from 2019 to 2020

79%

Percentage of murders in Florida that were committed with a firearm in 2020

206

Number of Florida children and teens who die every year, on average, from gun violence

Gun-related violence has skyrocketed under Gov. DeSantis, taking a particularly heavy toll on Latino communities and youth across the state

  • The number of violent crime incidents involving a firearm rose 20 percent from 2019 to 2020—the first year of Gov. DeSantis’ term.
  • From 2019 to 2020, the number of gun homicides surged 21 percent. In 2020, 79 percent of all murders in Florida were committed with a gun.
  • The proportion of manslaughter cases involving a gun also rose during this period, jumping by a stunning 107 percent.*
  • Aggravated assaults with a firearm rose 34 percent from 2019 to 2020, making guns the most common weapon used in aggravated assaults in Florida—the first time this has happened since data reporting began in 1995.
  • Florida saw a 42.3 percent increase in gun homicides among Hispanic youth from 2019 to 2020, with young Hispanic populations ages 24 and under twice as likely to die by gun homicide than white youth of the same age—according to CAP Action analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
  • More than four years after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, young people in the state are increasingly likely to die from gun violence:

Gun crime in Florida is likely fueled by increases in gun sales and illegal trafficking

  • A total of 1,409,076 guns were sold in Florida in 2021, a 43 percent increase in sales since 2019.
  • According to U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) data, more than 28,000 crime guns were recovered in Florida in 2021; 80 percent of those guns were originally sold within the state, showing the deadly impact Florida gun laws are having on residents.
    • Meanwhile, in New York, 1,061 crime guns were sourced from within the state, just 15 percent of the total number of crime guns recovered in New York in 2021.
  • Florida’s surge in gun sales is increasingly affecting neighboring communities: More than 25 percent of crime guns recovered in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico come directly from Florida.
  • In 2020, U.S. officials stopped gun traffickers attempting to smuggle more than 80 firearms—including a sniper rifle, a suppressor, and more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition—from Florida to Venezuela. Many of these weapons were purchased online or from retailers in Florida.

Republican’s extreme right-wing agenda will continue to put Floridians’ lives at risk

  • Even with Florida’s shockingly high number of gun-related deaths, Gov. DeSantis and Sen. Rubio are pushing to weaken gun laws even further.
  • In 2021, Gov. DeSantis signed a new law increasing the penalties for localities that attempt to regulate firearms. Additionally, he enacted legislation expanding the places where people with concealed carry permits can bring their weapons to include the premises of a church, synagogue, or other religious institution.
  • DeSantis has promised to sign permitless carry legislation, a reckless policy that would allow Floridians to carry firearms without a license, background check, or firearm training:
    • Research shows that particularly permissive concealed carry laws are associated with a 13 to 15 percent increase in violent crime rates.
    • Permitless carry laws are also associated with a rise in officer-involved shootings, leading researchers to believe the increase in civilians carrying concealed weapons could be contributing to law enforcement officer’s perception of danger.
    • The National Rifle Association (NRA) is committed to supporting Republican candidates who vote for the policy, and since 2017, the NRA Political Victory Fund has spent almost $2 million on legislature races in Florida.
  • Rubio has voted repeatedly to block commonsense gun safety measures and make communities less safe:
    • Earlier this year, he voted against bipartisan legislation to prevent convicted domestic abusers from accessing guns—despite the fact that a woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has a gun.
    • That’s why Sen. Rubio is supported by the gun lobby: Since taking office, he has accepted more than $3 million in donations from the NRA.

Conclusion

Florida’s uptick in homicides and aggravated assaults has been driven heavily by gun violence, with a growing proportion of these violent crimes occurring with a firearm. Even still, Republicans continue to weaken state gun laws in Florida and have attempted to stop federal gun violence prevention bills in Congress—promising to make matters worse.

*Authors’ note: 47 out of 83 Florida manslaughter incidents in 2020 involved a firearm, while just 24 out of 88 Florida manslaughter incidents in 2019 involved a firearm.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Author

the Center for American Progress Action Fund

Explore The Series

A woman walks through a field of flowers representing deaths from gun violence.

As Republican elected officials and candidates continue to make false claims about Democrats’ record on crime and public safety, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is setting the record straight about the true cause of increases in violent crime: access to guns. This series of fact sheets shows how increases in crime are directly linked to dangerous gun laws passed by Republicans.

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