Earlier this month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that removes the requirement for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed firearm. But what does that mean for average Floridians? Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s new firearms law.
On April 3, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 543. This new law will go into effect on July 1 and it legalizes the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit as long as all other firearms laws are followed, including those involving who may or may not own a gun. Although a permit to carry a firearm is no longer needed, it does not change the law regarding felons or minors in possession of a firearm – that remains illegal in all cases. The prohibition against carrying firearms in airports, courthouses, polling places, and schools remains in effect as well. Carrying a concealed firearm also remains a crime when done in bars and other establishments whose main reason for being is service of alcoholic drink.
It’s also important to note that the new law does not change other laws regarding open carry of firearms. Open carry of a firearm in Florida remains illegal in the majority of circumstances, except while hunting or camping, while at a gun range, and while in a private home or vehicle.
As to vehicles, whether it is legal under Florida law to carry a firearm in your car is not quite as simple as some may think. Per Florida law, four conditions must be met for carrying a firearm in a vehicle is legal.
US citizens only – only those individuals who are citizens of the United States are legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
Adults only – only individuals aged 18 and older may legally carry a firearm in their vehicles.
Valid reason – the firearm must be being carried for appropriate reasons, including self defense or to transport the firearm to or from a shooting event or activity.
Within the vehicle – per the statute, the firearm must be inside the vehicle and not attached to an individual’s person
Not easily accessible – Florida law requires that the firearm be out of reach of any occupants within the vehicle. Closing up the gun in the glove compartment or in a locking case is typically sufficient to meet this element.
With the addition of the new concealed carry law, it is also important to understand what concealed carry of a firearm actually is. Florida law describes a concealed firearm as “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.”
One potential wrinkle in the law is its relation to the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act, which prohibits carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. Individuals with concealed carry permits are exempted from the Act if they are within the state that issued the permit. However, with the permitting system becoming obsolete, Floridians may face obstacles should they be apprehended with a firearm in their vehicle within a close distance of a school.