ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – HB 543, Florida’s new permitless carry law, takes effect on July 1, but that doesn’t mean everyone can carry lawfully.
The bill authorizes carrying a concealed firearm if an individual:
is a resident of the U.S. and a citizen or permanent resident alien of the U.S.;
is 21 years of age or older;
does not suffer from a physical infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a firearm;
has not been convicted of a felony OR a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult and such person is under 24 years of age;
has not been found guilty of certain crimes relating to controlled substances within the preceding three years;
does not chronically use alcohol or drugs to the extent that normal faculties are impaired (this includes provisions about convictions for substance abuse within the preceding three years);
has not been adjudicated a mentally incapacitated person;
has not been committed to a mental institution;
has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or a suspended sentence on any felony in the preceding three years;
has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or a suspended sentence on any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence within the preceding three years;
is not under an injunction for domestic violence or acts of repeat violence;
is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under any other provision of Florida law;
has not been found guilty of or had adjudication of guilt withheld for a violent misdemeanor crime of violence.
In addition, anyone carrying a concealed weapon or firearm must carry valid identification and must display it upon demand by a law enforcement officer. Firearms are still prohibited in a long list of locations:
Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district;
Any meeting of the legislature;
Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms;
Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building;
Any career center;
Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose;
Any college or university facility except that registered students and employees may carry an electric weapon that does not fire a dart or projectile;
Any part of the passenger terminal of an airport unless the firearm is encased for shipment.
An individual who carries a concealed firearm and does not meet the above criteria commits a felony of the third degree.
New provisions for firearms inside vehicles
The statute also provides that people 18 years of age or older may possess a handgun or weapon inside a private vehicle if it is securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use; the handgun may not be carried on the person’s body. That section adds this provision: “This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense.”
Firearms must be concealed
The weapon must be concealed from the ordinary sight of another person, such as in a hidden holster on the body or in a bag, purse, backpack, or other type of carrier. However, it is not a violation to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.
A permit is still required if you travel out of state
A number of states have reciprocity agreements with Florida that authorize Floridians to carry concealed firearms in those states, but only if the Floridian has a Florida Concealed Carry Permit. A list of reciprocity agreements is here.
Still illegal to carry a firearm while committing a crime
It is still illegal to carry a concealed firearm while committing or attempting to commit any felony or while under indictment.
The Florida Statutes concerning weapons and firearms can be found here.
Gainesville Police Department put together a series of “Myth vs Fact” graphics:
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