Florida Firearms Laws
Where Can I Have A Gun?
In Florida, it is generally illegal to openly carry a weapon. However, a person may openly carry, for legal self defense purposes, a self defense chemical spray, non-lethal stun gun, dart-firing stun gun or other non-lethal electric weapon designed for defensive purposes only. Even if a person does not possess a CWFL, there are some places a person may possess a firearm. These places include:
- A private motor vehicle if the firearm is securely encased.
- A public mode of travel if the firearm is securely encased and not in an individual’s manual possession.
- A person’s residence or place of business.
- A person engaged in fishing, camping, or hunting, including going to or returning from fishing, camping, or hunting.
Children In The Home:
If storing a loaded weapon in the home, it must be in a locked container or secured with a trigger lock if there is reason to know that a child under 16 may gain access to the firearm.
The Concealed Weapons Laws of The State of Florida:
Florida is unusual in that it allows many concealed weapons, not just handguns, to be legally carried with a license. Florida defines “concealed weapons” as handguns, electronic weapons or devices, tear gas guns, knives, and billie clubs. If a person is in possession of a concealed weapon, they must produce their concealed weapons license along with another valid identification upon the demand of a police officer.
Further, even with a CWFL these weapons may not be carried concealed in the following places, pursuant to Section 790.06(12)(a), Florida Statutes:
- A place of nuisance. Florida defines “a place of nuisance” as any place that annoys the community, injures the health of the community, or is injurious to the manners or morals of the people. These types of locations include, but are not limited to, places of prostitution, assignation (an outdated term for a place used for secret meetings), a place of lewdness, places used for illegal gambling purposes, or places deemed to have criminal gangs and activity.
- Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station, detention facility, jail, or prison.
- Any courthouse or courtroom except that a judge may carry and determine who may carry within his or her courtroom.
- Any polling place.
- Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, special district or meeting of the Legislature or a Legislative Committee.
- Any public or private school, college, or professional athletic event not relating to firearms. This includes a school sponsored event, the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop. However, a person may carry a firearm on school property if: it is carried in a case for the purposes of attending a firearms program or class that has been approved in advanced by the principle or chief administrative officer of the school, or in a vehicle if it is securely encased and not readily accessible for immediate use. School districts may waive this exception for purposes of student and campus parking.
- Any public or private preschool, elementary, or secondary school and their administrative buildings.
- Any career center. However, a person may carry inside a career center if attending a firearms training program.
- Any college or university facility unless the CWFL holder is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of the college or university and the weapon is a stun gun, nonlethal electric weapon, or device designed solely for defensive purpose and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile.
- 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. (Unfortunately, this law is ambiguous and appears to be subject to interpretation with regard to restaurants with bars or other places licensed to serve alcohol which serve other purposes such as casinos and other places of entertainment. We have researched this issue including contacting the concealed weapons division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and have received this response. While this letter and its opinion are not authoritative, the general sense is that concealed weapons may be legally carried by a CWFL holder into a business that serves alcohol but not as a primary business, however a concealed weapons carrier should stay out of portions of that business where the service of alcohol is the primary function, i.e., the bar area of a restaurant.)
- The inside of a passenger terminal both outside and inside the secured areas of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal that is encased for shipment purposes and checked as baggage to be lawfully transported on an aircraft.
The State of Florida Justification For the Use of Force & Deadly Force:
In Florida, there are several situations where a person is justified in using deadly or non-deadly force. Deadly force is defined as force likely to cause death or great bodily harm, which includes the actual firing of a gun. A person may use deadly force against another if it is reasonable to believe the deadly force will prevent death or serious bodily harm to themselves or another person.
In Florida, deadly force may be used to prevent the commission of a “forcible felony” which includes: treason, murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, home invasion, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, aggravated stalking, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing, placing or discharging a destructive devise or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual.
In Florida a legal presumption arises that a person acted reasonably in using deadly force in two situations. First, it is presumed that deadly force was reasonable if an individual was unlawfully or forcibly entering or entered into a home, business or occupied vehicle. Second, if an individual attempts or attempted to forcibly remove another against his or her will from a home, business or occupied vehicle, it is presumed to be reasonable to use deadly force. During these two situations, it must be reasonable to believe that a forcible and unlawful act was occurring or occurred.
This Florida legal presumption does not arise if:
- A person had a legal right to be in the home, business or vehicle and there is no injunction for protection due to domestic violence and no court order for no contact;
- The person sought to be removed is a child or grandchild and in the lawful custody of a guardian and the guardian is the person defensive force was used against;
- The person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity and the unlawful activity is occurring in the home, business or vehicle; and
- A law enforcement officer who has lawfully identified himself or is acting in accordance with the law.
In Florida if a person is attacked in any place where they had a right to be, they have no duty to retreat and have the right to stand their ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. Next, there are several situations where a person is justified in using non-deadly force. First, a person may use non-deadly force if they reasonably believe that unlawful harm against themselves or another is imminent. Second, a person may use non-deadly force in the protection of property to prevent or terminate another’s trespass or other unlawful interference with real property (other than the home) or personal property. However, deadly force could be used when the crime against property is also classified as a “forcible felony,” such as arson, burglary or robbery.
Unique Weapons Laws of Florida:
Florida has taken a very strong stance on the right of people to keep and bear arms. Not only is there no requirement to register a firearm, but all government agencies and private persons are prohibited by law from compiling any list, record or registry of legal firearms owned by law-abiding citizens.
Florida law prohibits taking firearms into, and sending firearms there from, any hospital providing mental health services. The law also prohibits transmitting firearms to any patient of such a hospital outside the grounds of the hospital. The statute, Section 394.458 Florida Statutes, includes the phrase “except as otherwise authorized by law,” but does not explicitly specify whether concealed firearms licensees are included.
Discharging a firearm or possessing it loaded in hand, while under the influence of alcohol, any prohibited substance, or prescribed medication is a violation of the law. Further, if the police suspect that a person has discharged a firearm or held a loaded firearm while under the influence, they can ask that person to submit to a chemical test to determine the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in their body. If the use of the firearm has resulted in someone’s death or serious injury the police can mandatorily take blood for testing. If the chemical test shows a blood alcohol content of less than .05 percent, then the person is presumed to not be under the influence. If the blood alcohol is between .05 percent and .10 percent this evidence can be used with other evidence to prove that the alcohol caused that person’s mental or physical impairment. If the blood alcohol is over .10 percent then that person is presumed to be impaired by alcohol. However, this provision does not apply to those using lawful self-defense or defense of one’s property.
Florida also has a very strong statement in the law which states that people have a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in their motor vehicle. Section 790.251 Florida Statutes states that no public or private business or employer Employees who are excepted from other law includes schools, correctional institutions, nuclear plants, employees associated with national defense, aerospace or homeland security, employees who manufacture, use, transport explosive or hazardous materials or places forbidden under federal law may prevent an employee who holds a concealed weapons license, a customer, or invitee (whether or not they hold a concealed weapons licenses) from keeping legally owned firearms in their locked motor vehicles, while on that businesses’ parking areas.
Further, public and private employers in Florida are prohibited from inquiring as to whether or not an employee or prospective employee is a concealed weapons license holder. Also, a public or private employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee or expelling a customer or licensee for exercising their rights to keep and bear arms as long as the weapon is never exhibited except for defensive purposes.
There does not appear to be a law which clearly sets forth a general prohibition for a CWFL holder to carry a concealed weapon into private property, such as stores, casinos, restaurants, hotels, etc. However, a person who has been given notice by the owner or lessee of the property that their presence on the property constitutes a trespass because of the firearm, and refuses to leave, could then be subject to arrest for criminal trespass with a firearm, which is a third degree felony.
Any of the above information is solely a general legal discussion of the law in Florida and should neither be considered as giving legal advice, nor creating an attorney-member relationship. Your situation may be different so contact an attorney regarding your personal circumstances. Please call our office for more information.