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 third 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.
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF HAVING A CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE?
First and foremost, you are able to lawfully carry a gun with you in case it is needed for self-defense purposes. Second, you do not have to wait the mandatory 3-day waiting period normally required when purchasing a firearm. You may walk into your local gun store, purchase your gun of choice, and walk out with it that day.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A LICENSE TO CARRY A FIREARM?
No, there are times that a person does not need a license to possess, own, or use a firearm. One is when a person is fishing, hunting, or camping or going to or returning from one of these activities. A person may also take a firearm to a firing range or target practice area. You may also keep a firearm in your home, business or car.
WHERE CAN I KEEP MY GUN IN MY CAR?
This is a question commonly asked, but rarely able to be answered.
You may keep, with or without a license, a firearm in your ‘private conveyance’, otherwise known as a vehicle. Florida Statute s. 790.251(5) states ‘it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use’.
The important, and most often misunderstood, parts of this provision are the phrases ‘securely encased’ and ‘not readily accessible’. ‘Securely encased’ means in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
An important note in the list underlined previously is that whatever you keep your gun in it must be closed but not necessarily locked. Keep in mind, this statute does not require you to carry your firearm securely encased and not readily accessible for immediate use; the statute states that either way is lawful. Also, if you do have a concealed carry license, remember, that you can carry it in any place but for those listed previously.
IS THERE ANY TIME I CANNOT CARRY MY GUN?
You may generally carry your firearm or weapon with you with the exceptions stated in this series, which include, typically:
- Any school
2. Any correctional institute
3. Any nuclear power facility
4. Any facility used for national defense, aerospace technology, or homeland security
5. Any facility or property where explosive or combustible material is stored, used, or manufactured
6. Any vehicle leased or rented by an employer
7. Any facility where federal law or contract prohibits the possession of a firearm
One very important thing to remember is that you may not use a firearm while ‘under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired’. Florida Statute s. 790.151.
So, if you are celebrating Fourth of July or New Years, do not think you can go to the firing range or shoot some targets on your property if you have been drinking heavily. However, 790.151(5) states you are still allowed to use a firearm, even if under the influence, when you are lawfully defending yourself or your property.
WHAT STATES HAVE RECIPROCITY WITH FLORIDA?
The easiest way to answer this is by checking out Florida Division of Licensing’s list. Remember, even though a state my recognize Florida’s license, does not mean that the laws are the same. If you plan on traveling with your firearm, take the time to research individual states you will be visiting.
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 email@example.com.
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.