By Jonathan Blecher on April 2, 2023

The Florida Legislature recently passed a new law regarding concealed weapons, which has stirred up some controversy and debate. Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law very soon. SB 150/HB 543, expand the rights of gun owners in the state and allows them to carry concealed weapons without a permit in certain situations. The text of the bill can be found here. Here’s what you need to know about the new law.

It’s important to understand that the new law does not eliminate the requirement for a concealed carry permit entirely. Instead, it expands the situations in which a permit is not required. Specifically, individuals over the age of 21 who legally own a firearm are now allowed to carry it concealed without a permit as long as they are not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.

This means that individuals who meet these criteria can now carry a concealed weapon while engaged in activities such as hunting, camping, or fishing, or while traveling to and from these activities. Additionally, they can carry a concealed weapon in their vehicle, as long as it is secured in a case or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.

Proponents of the law argue that it expands Second Amendment rights and makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families. They also point out that Florida is not alone in allowing permit-less carry, as several other states already have similar laws in place. Open carry advocates object that the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect what they have said in committees is a “God-given right enshrined in our Constitution.”

Opponents of the law, however, argue that it could lead to more gun violence and accidents, as individuals without proper training or background checks may be carrying concealed weapons. They also express concern about the potential for law enforcement to be put in more dangerous situations when encountering armed individuals. “Too many lawmakers in Florida are allowing gun extremists to have a seat at the table to write the policies that are supposed to protect Floridians, but instead they’re protecting gun-makers’ profits. It’s shameful,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

Even without a concealed carry permit, individuals are still subject to certain restrictions on where they can carry a firearm. For example, guns are still not allowed in schools, government buildings, or certain other locations. Additionally, individuals who carry a concealed weapon without a permit could still face criminal charges if they violate any of the state’s gun laws.

Is “open carry” now legal in Florida?

No. Openly carrying a gun remains illegal in Florida. It’s a second-degree misdemeanor with exemptions for law enforcement, corrections officers, game wardens, forest officials, military, guards, members of firearms clubs while at gatherings or traveling to and from them, people on firing ranges, people who manufacture firearms while they’re on the job, and anyone “engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition,” according to Florida Statute 790.25,

Does the concealed weapons bill change who can buy a firearm?

No. You must be a resident 21 or older unless you are a law enforcement or corrections officer or are in military service. If you have been convicted of a felony, dishonorably discharged from the armed services, adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or other conditions recognized by the state, you will be disqualified from gun purchase.

Does the law limit the type of weapon I can carry?

Not very much. You can carry any weapon you are allowed to own in Florida. Fully automatic weapons or machine guns are still prohibited, as well as short-barreled rifles and “destructive devices” such as bombs, grenades, or similar devices “containing an explosive, incendiary, or poison gas.”

Can I carry a concealed weapon anywhere in Florida?

No. Here’s a list of places where concealed weapons are still restricted:

  • Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05 (sort of an open term that includes places that endanger the health of the community, become “manifestly injurious to the morals or manners” of the community, or “annoy the community” such as prostitution dens, illegal gambling halls, specified massage parlors and anywhere criminal gang activity happens
  • Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station
  • Any detention facility, prison, or jail
  • Any courthouse
  • Any courtroom (although judges can carry concealed weapons and determine if someone else can)
  • Any polling place.
  • Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district
  • Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof
  • Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms
  • Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building
  • Any career center
  • Anywhere in an establishment primarily devoted to dispensing alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises
  • Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member there and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon, or device designed solely for defensive purposes and doesn’t fire a dart or projectile
  • The inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, unless it’s encased for shipment to be checked as baggage
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law

Florida’s new concealed weapon law is certainly controversial and has sparked a lot of debate. While proponents argue that it expands Second Amendment rights and makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, opponents express concern about the potential for increased gun violence and accidents. Ultimately, it will be up to law enforcement and the courts to determine how the law is enforced and how it impacts public safety. There’s bound to be an adjustment period and arrests will take place.  Contact me if you need legal assistance.

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