The school year has started in Florida, but this year is unlike any other year. In these unprecedented times, school districts have had to alter the way education is offered to Florida’s children. Schools have already reopened throughout the state, but traditional in-person education has been augmented by various distance learning alternatives. In fact, in many counties, less than 25% of students will receive in-person schooling this semester.
Do I Need To Remove Firearms From My Home?
This new wrinkle in education, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leads to an interesting question. Is distance learning from home considered a school-sponsored event or school-sanctioned activity? Florida law prohibits the possession of a firearm on school property or at a school-sponsored event or activity unless that event or activity specifically requires the use of firearms. So, does that mean that Florida gun-owners who have children being educated at home must remove the firearms from their homes?
Florida Statute §790.115(2)(a), in relevant part reads,
“A person shall not possess any firearm, electric weapon or device, destructive device, or other weapon as defined in s. 790.001(13), including a razor blade or box cutter, except as authorized in support of school-sanctioned activities, at a school-sponsored event or on the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop;”
Although academically, this is an interesting question, it is our opinion that the courts will NOT interpret home education caused by the pandemic to be a school-sponsored event or activity which would require parents to remove firearms from their homes. Any other interpretation would conflict with long-standing Florida laws that specifically allow Floridians to possess firearms in their homes and would also infringe on Second Amendment rights.
For Students Going Back On Campus
What about those Floridians who will be sending their students back to campus for traditional in-person learning? In addition to firearms, Florida Statute § 790.115(3)(b), makes it a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for anyone to possess any electric weapon or device, destructive device, dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, razor blade, or box cutter while on school property or at a school-sponsored event, except as authorized in support of school-sanctioned activities. The only exception is a registered student, employee, or faculty of a college or university, who may carry a stun gun or other electric weapon while on campus as long as the defensive weapon does not shoot a dart or projectile.
School property means the grounds or facility of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic. As far as school-sponsored events or activities, this prohibition applies even if the event or activity is held on property that would normally allow possession of such weapons.
As you can see, Florida law is pretty tough on what you can carry on school property. The only two non-lethal weapons that are not prohibited by law are less than two ounces of pepper spray and a common pocket-knife. However, while it might be legal under Florida law to carry pepper spray or a pocket-knife on school property, you should check local ordinances and the school’s policy before you go or send your child to school with one of these items.
If you have any questions about carrying a firearm or non-lethal weapon on school property, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.