When is it illegal to carry a firearm?

Steps to Determine if it is Illegal to Carry a Firearm

  1. What State are you in?

  2. Determine how your State allows you to carry a firearm in general.

  3. Determine the benefits of having a concealed weapons permit.

  4. If you do not have (or cannot obtain) a concealed permit, educate yourself about the law.

Step 1

Concealed weapons law varies from state to state.  The U.S. Supreme Court has emphasized that Americans do have the right to own firearms.  However, the constitution does permit states to restrict gun usage for the general safety of the public.  While open carry is banned in general in Florida, the Supreme Court of Florida has established that you can carry a firearm in specific ways – depending on whether or not you have a concealed weapons permit.

Step 2

Without a permit, Florida allows you to carry a firearm in the following ways:

  1. If you are in your home or in your place of business (usually applies to business owners).
  2. If you are going to or from the shooting range, hunting, fishing, or camping.
  3. If you are transporting the gun.  As long as you are 18 or older, a person may carry a concealed firearm or weapon without a concealed weapons permit so long as it is “within the interior of a private conveyance and the weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.”  In other words, you should not be able to reach for it and shoot.
  4. Securely encased refers to some type of container that would prevent open access to the weapon.  A weapon is not readily accessible if: (1) You have to open a container or any kind of encasing before you can use the weapon; or (2) The firearm is completely out of reach from your vicinity and it would be impossible to immediately use.
  5. If you are engaging in self defense or are standing your ground.  To stand your ground refers to the legal use of a firearm in a public area for self-defense, even if it is possible for you to avoid violence by leaving the area.

Step 3

In Florida, you can apply with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for your concealed weapons permit.  Processing usually takes 50-55 days to get your permit.  Not everyone qualifies and you can find a list of disqualifying reasons here.

What are the benefits of having a concealed weapons permit?

According to Florida law, having a concealed weapons permit allows you to carry the firearm in a concealed manner on your person.  A person without a proper permit can be charged as committing a misdemeanor of the first degree for carrying a concealed firearm on his/her person.

To carry on your person refers to having the firearm readily accessible. For example, under your shirt, under your pants, in your jacket, are all places that you may have the weapon if you have a concealed weapons permit.  A misdemeanor of the first degree carries of a maximum jail term of one year!

If you obtain a concealed firearm license/permit, you are entitled to certain privileges (such as carrying a concealed firearm on your person).  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.” This lisence/permit allows you to carry the weapon on you in away that is hidden from the public (i.e under your shirt, in your jacket, ankle holsters, etc.)

Another privilege you have (if you have a concealed weapon permit) is that you may “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.

Regardless of whether or not you have a concealed weapons permit, the following places do not allow the carry of firearms:

– Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05;

– Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;

– Any detention facility, prison, or jail;

– Any courthouse or courtroom (the Judge can still carry a firearm, however);

– 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;

– Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms;

– Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building;

– Other examples of where you cannot carry firearms can be found here.

Step 4

If you don’t have (or can’t get) a concealed firearm permit, you need to learn about the laws surrounding firearms in Florida.  Here is a link to statutes that are on point.  Below are a few frequently asked questions.

Do I need to have a concealed weapons permit to keep a gun in my home or my place of business?

No.  You may keep a gun or weapon in your home or in your place of business (assuming you work for yourself – if you are an employee at a large company, they probably won’t allow it!).  You can also transport the gun as long as it is securely encased during transport.

Can I defend myself with my gun?

Yes, but this is a complicated matter.  Florida Law allows a person to stand your ground and defend themselves so long as are are in a place where you may lawfully be and you use appropriate force.

Can I be charged with carrying a concealed firearm if it is in my car?

Yes!  Just because the weapon is in your car that does not mean it is concealed, as defined in the above information.  For example, if your firearm is not in an enclosed case and is placed under your seat or on the passenger seat, you may be charged with carrying a firearm.  However, if the firearm is in a glove compartment or some other closed box, then that probably complies with Florida law and you would be okay.

What should I do if I am charged with carrying a concealed firearm?

Call a lawyer and tell him/her the details of your case before admitting guilt or pleading out and closing your case.  Your encounter with the police and where the firearm was located at the time is essential to your case.

Consider the recent case of Eric Brunson v. The State of Florida.  Brunson was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after arriving to his apartment complex.  The police received a call saying that gunshots had been fired into the air and that the perpetrator had driven away.  The police identified Brunson as the perpetrator and as Brunson got out of his car and began walking to his apartment, he was stopped, handcuffed, and arrested.  After, the police asked him where the gun was located and Brunson said it was under the front seat.  The following would suggest Brunson was guilty of carrying a concealed weapon:

  • The weapon was not in an enclosed case.
  • The weapon was under his seat, which allows for easy accessibility.
  • He did not have a concealed weapons permit.

However, because the policeman saw Brunson exit out of the car and begin walking to the apartment, the gun was not on his person.  This means it was not readily available to him at the time that the policeman stopped him.  This being the case, the state did not have enough evidence to prove that he was carrying a concealed weapon that it was accessible to him at the time of his encounter with the police!  Charges dismissed.

Arrested for carrying a concealed firearm?  Call us today!  407-FIGHTER.

 

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