There are rules and regulations everywhere you look, and it’s important to be cognizant of the law. As they say, ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’, and a number of laws are important to know and understand.
In this series of articles, we will be explaining some of the laws with which you should probably be familiar, and this is the second in a series discussing firearms and the Concealed Carry Law in Florida.
One of the oldest and most fought over rights in America is the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. This right has been hotly debated by politicians and other talking heads since time began.
Many people in Florida have a concealed weapons permit which allows them to carry a firearm for self-defense purposes, and though many people have this permit, most have no idea what it allows them to do or where it allows them to carry their firearm.
Many firearms course instructors are unsure about the laws that attach to the permit as well. This guide is intended to point out some key points and things about which you should probably be aware, and this is meant as a general reference only- do not rely on this as legal advice.
FOR HOW LONG IS MY CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE VALID?
Your concealed carry license is valid for a period of seven years within the state of Florida, and while other states share reciprocity with Florida, the length of time that a license is valid may vary from state to state.
WHERE DO I NEED TO KEEP MY LICENSE?
You should keep you license in your purse or wallet at all times. You must have your license on you, along with valid identification, any time you are carrying a concealed weapon or firearm. You also must show a law enforcement officer that requests it your license and valid identification.
CAN I CARRY MY FIREARM OPENLY?
The safest answer to that question is ‘NO’. Statute 790.053 expressly forbids ‘any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm’.
However, 790.053 goes on to say that a person that has a valid concealed carry license, and who is lawfully carrying a concealed firearm, might ‘briefly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed, including in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense’.
So this statute allows for a situation where a shopper might be reaching for an item and their concealed firearm is briefly exposed in the process; or you are bending over and someone sees your concealed firearm, which is briefly exposed, until you stand back up; but you cannot purposely display/show the concealed firearm to your buddy in public, or display the firearm in anger or to threaten another person unless in self-defense.
The statute also allows open carrying of a firearm when going to or returning from a hunting or fishing expedition. Regardless of the exceptions, the safest thing to do is keep your gun concealed unless it becomes absolutely necessary to use it in self-defense or transport it for hunting/fishing.
CAN I CARRY MY CONCEALED FIREARM ANYWHERE?
For the most part, you can take your firearm almost anywhere you go, so long as it stays concealed. There are some very specific places that you cannot take a firearm even if you are lawfully carrying it in a concealed manner. The Florida legislature has forbidden concealed firearm or weapon carry in the following places:
- A place of nuisance (house of prostitution or gang activity)
2. Any police department, sheriff’s office, or highway patrol station
3. Any detention facility, prison, or jail
4. Any courthouse or courtroom
5. Any polling place
6. Any meeting used by a county, school board, municipality, or special district
7. Any meeting of the legislature or committees
8. Any school, college, or professional athletic event
9. Any elementary or secondary school
10. Any career center
11. Any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages as its main purpose
12. Any college or university facility
13. Any airport
14. Anywhere federal law prohibits the carrying of firearms
There are few comments to be made about a few of the places on this list. First, you may take a firearm to an airport for the purposes of declaring the firearm for storage and travel so long as it is properly encased; you may not take a firearm into the secure or sterile part of an airport.
Second, make special note of a “polling place”. A building in which you may otherwise be allowed to carry your gun may become a prohibited area while it is being used for polling (i.e., your local church, community center, etc.).
Finally, the trickiest one is an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages as its main business purpose. This, in non-legalese, is a bar, tavern, or pub.
These establishments make a profit by selling alcoholic beverages and you cannot carry your firearm into these places. However, it gets trickier when you are talking about a restaurant that has a bar in it. The prohibition also extends to the ‘portion’ of a business whose sole purpose is to serve alcoholic beverages.
The safest thing to do is stay in the restaurant portion of the establishment and do not sit at or in the bar area. These prohibitions do not prevent someone from lawfully having a firearm in their vehicle. See 790.06 for more details.
In Part 3 of this series we will discuss other aspects of the Concealed Carry laws, including benefits of Concealed Carry, along with dealing with concealed weapons in public and private places.
This series is not meant to constitute legal advice, and you should always consult an attorney when in doubt, when making life-changing legal decisions or when accused of a crime. If you have a suggestion for an article, please submit your idea in email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Wilson is an attorney practicing law in the greater Panama City, Florida area, with offices in Marianna, Chipley, Bonifay, Blountstown and Panama City. For more information please call Greg Wilson at 850-600-7088 or visit his website at www.GregWilsonLawFirm.com.