You might think the only thing you need to figure out for your beach vacation is how to get your .44 magnum in your swimming trunks, but there are other factors you need to consider before you head out for fun in the sun. We want to make sure you know the law before you go soak up the sun, and we have developed five tips for carrying your firearm to the beach.
- License to Carry a Handgun— Good news! Unless otherwise posted, it is legal to carry your firearm on Florida’s public beaches. Remember however, that concealed carry means concealed, which may be difficult to do wearing a bathing suit or bikini.
- Storing Firearms While Traveling—It’s important to keep in mind how you’re going to get to your waterside destination because the laws can be very different depending on your mode of transportation. When traveling by vehicle, Florida allows you to carry a concealed handgun with or without a license. If you have an CWFL, you have the additional option of carrying your handgun in your vehicle on your person or easily accessible. If you do not possess a CWFL then remember that your firearm must be securely encased. When traveling by airplane, TSA guidelines require that your firearm is unloaded, locked in a commercial gun case with a TSA approved lock, and declared at check-in.
- Public vs. Private Beach—Before you feel the sand between your toes it’s important to find out if you’re going to be on a public or private beach. Though most beaches are public property, the beach immediately outside of a private home is often the property of that homeowner. Florida law states that up to the high tide marker is public property, however, beyond that the sand can be privately owned. A private property owner has the right to restrict the carry of a handgun on their premises, including if that premises is on the beach. If your plans take you onto private property, even while just accessing the beach be sure to check to see if there are signs prohibiting carrying a firearm on that private property and find an alternative route to the beach. Beaches, on the other hand, should be treated like any other public property in the state. If you can carry in Florida, you can probably carry on the beach.
- Having a Firearm on a Boat—We know many of you like to go out on the water on a jet ski or boat. It’s important to understand how the laws can change when you’re out on the water, and what effect that has on carrying your firearm. Florida law treats watercraft just like motor vehicles and allows you to carry a concealed firearm in a watercraft under your control whether or not you have an CWFL. Unfortunately, boats and watercraft can lead to a complicated intersection between different state’s laws because rivers and lakes often separate two states. Also, federal regulations, specifically on waterways controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, can affect your lawful possession of a firearm. Check with an attorney before venturing far into unknown waters.
- Understand How the Law Changes When You Drink—While you may not be a person who takes part in wild parties over spring break, it’s important to know what can happen if you do drink while carrying your firearm on the beach. Carrying a firearm while intoxicated is not a crime in Florida, nor is it illegal to consume alcohol while carrying your firearm (although we do not recommend mixing firearms and alcohol). What is illegal in Florida is having a firearm readily accessible for immediate use while you are impaired. Readily accessible for immediate use means loaded and in your hand. Our best advice is: if you are consuming any alcohol, do not bring your gun.
If you remember these five things, you can maintain that peace of mind to enjoy your beach vacation. Remember, U.S. Law Shield is not just the 24/7/365 Attorney-Answered Emergency Hotline. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to call our Non-Emergency Business Line on the back of your Member Card or bring your question to one of our Gun Law Seminars. To find a Gun Law Seminar in your area go to www.uslawshield.com/seminar