If you are planning to travel to the Sunshine State with your firearm, it is important that you know about Florida’s gun laws. Florida has reciprocity agreements with bordering states, Georgia and Alabama, as well as thirty-four other states. A reciprocity agreement means that the State of Florida will recognize the concealed carry license from the reciprocal state and that state will recognize Florida’s concealed weapons license. Both those with and those without a concealed carry license can possess a firearm in the State of Florida as long as they are not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm.
Even if you do not have a concealed weapons license, you can still have your firearm in your vehicle, and loaded with one in the chamber. However, the firearm must be securely encased. To comply with the law, the firearm must be in a closed container such as a closed glove box, center console, a holster that buckles the firearm in, or a gun case. A pressure holster, from which one only needs to pull the firearm, does not comply with Florida law. You may not carry your firearm outside of your vehicle except for a few limited activities, such as going to the range to shoot, if you do not have a concealed carry license.
If you do have a concealed carry license, you can carry concealed anywhere in your vehicle, including on your person. The only requirement is that the firearm be concealed. Further, you can freely carry concealed in most public areas of the state with some common exceptions such as school property, courthouses, airports, jails, polling places, etc. Further, you can carry in state and federal parks in Florida with the exception being that you may not carry inside buildings located in federal parks. Private property owners, including hotels and motels, can also prohibit the carrying of a firearm on their property.
There is no specific signage required in Florida to prohibit the carrying of a firearm, nor is there any case telling us if the posting of a sign with a picture of a gun with an “X” or a line through it is sufficient. Florida law only requires that you have knowledge that the property owner does not want you carrying on their property. If you know this and you enter the property, or fail to leave when asked, you can be arrested and charged with trespassing or armed trespassing, which is a felony. All theme parks in Florida prohibit the carrying of a firearm on their property.
Although you can carry a firearm into an establishment that serves alcohol, you cannot carry in a bar or bar portion of the restaurant. In Florida, it is legal to consume alcohol, even to the point of intoxication, while carrying your firearm. However, you cannot be impaired and have your firearm readily accessible for immediate discharge unless you are using it in self-defense. Readily accessible for immediate discharge is defined as “loaded and in your hand.”
Florida does not allow open carry of a firearm except under a few very limited exceptions. You can open carry on your own private property or on private property where the owner has given you permission to open carry. Further, you can also open carry while traveling directly to or from or are engaged in fishing, hunting, or camping.
The reciprocity laws often change. Before traveling to Florida, visit the Department of Agriculture’s website for up-to-date information. If you have any questions about traveling with your firearm or whether another state recognizes your state’s concealed carry license, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.