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HomeAt Home & BeyondFlorida’s New Concealed Carry Law: What You Need to Know

Florida’s New Concealed Carry Law: What You Need to Know

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On the first of July, Florida’s new concealed carry law officially went into effect. Signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in April, House Bill 543 allows most adults to carry weapons and firearms without the need for a permit. This does not mean there are no restrictions, though. In fact, there are a handful of key points to remember: the carrier must always have a valid form of identification with them; you may still not openly carry except in specific circumstances; you must be legally eligible to carry; and firearms are still prohibited at certain locations or establishments (schools, courthouses, etc). While Florida’s new law does not require the owner of a firearm to have any experience or training with the weapon,

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd does urge training and familiarity for safety and legal purposes.
“I do encourage anyone who wants to own, possess, or carry a concealed firearm to please become familiar with that weapon,” Sheriff Judd said. “Learn how to safely handle it and fire it. I am a huge supporter of the Second Amendment, and I encourage anyone who legally can have a firearm, and is comfortable handling it and using it, to get one to protect yourself and your family. But good firearms training is a must, and if you don’t understand the law, you can easily find yourself charged with a crime, and we never want that to occur.”

Regarding identification, permitless carriers must also be able to produce proof when demanded by a law enforcement officer. Citizens may not open carry freely, as firearms must be concealed at all times unless participating in or traveling to or from certain activities. These exceptions include camping, hunting, fishing, and target shooting. To be legally eligible to carry a firearm, a person must be a United States citizen or “permanent resident alien” of at least 21 years of age, cannot be a convicted felon, and must not habitually abuse substances, among other things.

There are also a variety of areas where these weapons are restricted, which include bars, police stations, schools, government meetings, courthouses, and private businesses where business owners have declared the weapons are not allowed. Regarding a private business that does not allow firearms on the premises, they may also decide whether or not those weapons are allowed to be kept in a car on their property. According to Florida State Statute 790.115, a citizen may not bring a firearm onto a restricted property like a school, even if it is left in a car. Exceptions exist for instances such as firearms programs that have been approved by the principal or chief administrative officer of a school, among other caveats.

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“A person shall not possess any firearm, electric weapon or device, destructive device, or other weapon as defined in s. 790.001(13), including a razor blade or box cutter, except as authorized in support of school-sanctioned activities, at a school sponsored event or on the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop,” subsection (2)(a) states.

The Polk County Sheriff continues that citizens must also keep themselves apprised of the current laws governing the use of a firearm, which include Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law and the Castle Doctrine.

Sheriff Judd contends that it is still best for citizens to have a concealed carry license (CCL) due to reciprocity with other states’ laws. This means that other states recognize a Florida license, and a person would be within their rights to carry in many states with one, but “you may very well be violating the law in another state” without a license. Even under a reciprocity agreement, laws vary between states, and many states only allow concealed carry of handguns or pistols. It is advised to consult that state’s laws to find out precisely what carry restrictions apply.

Going through the process of obtaining a concealed carry license provides a basic level of safety as it requires a firearms training course. Additionally, a concealed weapons permit may be required for certain firearms training courses. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is holding a Situational Awareness Firearms training on Aug. 25 that requires a permit because it includes live munitions training.

For more information regarding the fledgling Florida law, aspiring gun owners can go to PolkSheriff.org. Once on the website, the facts will be in the “FAQs” section under the “About” tab near the top of the screen. The FAQ page features answers to various questions that the general public should be aware of, including more detailed information on who is allowed to carry a concealed weapon and places where firearms may not be carried.

More detailed information listings may also be found on the state Senate’s website under Chapter 790 of Title XLVI. For information on obtaining a concealed weapons license, go to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

“Remember, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Sheriff Judd said. “In Florida, we have lots and lots of good guys, but there’s still some bad guys too.”

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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