People Against Violence Enterprises Inc. of G'ville hosts virtual town hall to discuss gun bill

A billed passed in the Florida Legislature this past session that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit was discussed recently during a virtual symposium.

Gun bill goes into effect July 1

Hosted by People Against Violence Enterprises Inc. (PAVE), the symposium was held virtually on Tuesday on Facebook via Zoom to discuss Florida House Bill 543 that was signed into law on April 3 by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It will begin being enforced on July 1.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, HB 543 does not eliminate the department’s authority to issue licenses to carry concealed weapons to qualified individuals. However, it removes the requirement for having a concealed firearm license to carry a concealed firearm in Florida.

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To carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm without a license, you must be eligible for a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License based on the criteria in the Florida Statutes Section 790.06, except if you are not required to complete training or pay a licensing fee.

More information about HB543 can be found at

PAVE hosts gun bill symposium

The moderator of the virtual symposium was the Rev. Karl Anderson, founder of PAVE and senior pastor of Upper Room Ministries in northeast Gainesville.

Anderson said he hosted the town hall after receiving calls from concerned citizens about the gun bill.

“This year makes 24 years PAVE has been in existence,” Anderson said. “Our purpose is not politically motivated. We are here out of sincere concern of our citizens from the young adults to the seniors in our communities. We're having this town hall to help calm those fears and to learn about what your agencies have planned.”

The panelists were Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brian Kramer, Alachua County Commission Chair Anna Prizzia, Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward, Col. Chad Scott of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department Chief Lonnie Scott Sr., Richard Anderson, vice president of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayers By Faith Ministries and Reginald Thomas, a retired national NAACP marketing director.

Age requirement to carry gun legally

“The age where people can carry firearms has not changed, but the licensure requirement has changed,” Kramer said.

According to the recently passed bill, a person must be 21 to purchase a firearm, but it does not prohibit those between the ages of 18 and 21 from possessing them.

For more information about the age to purchase and possess a gun in Florida, visit

“If 16 year-olds and 17 year-olds have a firearm in possession, they are in violation of the law,” said Tony Jones, the city’s special advisor for juvenile justice and community support program.

Thomas, who served in the military, said he is concerned about the new bill because it removes the required training to carry a concealed weapon.

“We will have people who have weapons who haven’t gone through training,” Thomas said.

Lock cars to prevent gun theft

Ward talked about gun safety for car owners by telling viewers to avoid leaving guns in their cars.

Ward also emphasized the importance of people not bringing guns into the mix during heated arguments.

“If you feel it getting hot with somebody, don’t bring a gun into the situation. It won’t end well,” Ward said.

Ward said the city of Gainesville will host a two-day gun violence summit Aug. 6-7 at the Hilton University of Florida Hotel and Conference Center at 1714 SW 34th St.

“Once you pull the trigger, you can’t take it back,” Ward said. “Your life and the other person’s life will change forever.”

Be responsible with your guns

Scott of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said deputies will be trained on how to enforce the newly enacted law.

He urged gun owners to be responsible gun owners by continuing to sign up for gun training even after HB 543 comes into effect.

The Rev. Karl Anderson, founder of People Against Violence Enterprises Inc. and senior pastor of Upper Room Ministries, moderated a virtual symposium discussing the recently passed Florida House Bill 543 that removes the requirement for having a concealed firearm license to carry a concealed firearm in Florida. (Photo:Photo by Voleer Thomas/For The Guardian)

“Be responsible gun owners and still seek to get a conceal gun permit,” Scott said. “Be cautious. "People who normally don’t carry guns will have one. We need to be cautious of our encounters.”

Rely on conflict resolution skills

Scott of GPD encouraged parents and teachers to talk about conflict resolution skills to their children and students.

“That’s a lost art,” Scott said. “People think to resolve a conflict is through violence. Talk through it. You can walk away and disagree.”

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Gainesville officials discuss passing of gun bill in Florida