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 first 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 DOES IT MEAN TO CARRY A CONCEALED FIREARM?
This may seem to have an obvious answer, but remember that we are dealing with the law, which does not always use common, or even clear definitions. A concealed firearm is ‘any firearm, which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person’, according to Florida Statute s.790.001(2). The Florida legislature has made it a third degree felony to carry a concealed firearm if unlicensed (see Fl Stat. s.790.01.)
As a practical matter, carrying a concealed weapon means that the weapon is carried under one’s shirt, in one’s pocket, or in some other place that a passerby cannot readily see it.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS TO GET A CONCEALED CARRY LICENSE?
In order to legally carry a concealed firearm on your person, you must have a license issued pursuant to Florida Statute s.790.06. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the agency responsible for issuing the concealed carry license. The requirements for obtaining a license are as follows:
- You must be a resident and citizen of the United States
2. You must be at least 21 years old
3. You cannot suffer from a disability which renders you unable to handle a firearm safely
4. You cannot be a convicted felon
5. You cannot have been convicted of a controlled substance crime under Chapter 893
6. You cannot chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages
7. You want a firearm for self-defense purposes only
8. You must demonstrate competence with a firearm
9. You must not be incapacitated under s. 744.331
10. You cannot have been committed to a mental institution
11. You cannot have been sentenced for a crime of domestic violence within past 3 years
12. You cannot be subject to an injunction
13. You cannot be prohibited by any other law, state or federal, from possessing a firearm
There are many ways in which the you can ‘demonstrate competence with a firearm’, the most common is by taking a concealed weapons course offered by your local gun store or range.
You can also be part of an organized shooting competition group, have military service, be law enforcement, or be licensed in another state. See Florida Statute 790.06(h) for the entire list.
Once you find you qualify for the license, you must gather your proof of competence with a firearm, have your fingerprints taken with a digital fingerprint scanner, fill out the application, and pay the fee that corresponds with your situation.
In Part 2 of this series we will discuss other aspects of the Concealed Carry laws, including prudent measures you should observe, where you may carry a concealed weapon and 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.