Currently, under Florida law, a Concealed Weapons or Firearms License (CWFL) issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is required, with limited exceptions, for anyone wishing to carry a concealed firearm on their person in public. To apply for a CWFL, an individual must meet the requirements of Florida Statute § 790.06, which among other things, involves completing a firearms training class that includes live firing of a firearm, unless you have documentation showing competency with a firearm, and paying a license fee of $55.00, plus a fingerprint processing fee. However, all of this could change in the upcoming 2022 legislative session if a constitutional carry, or permitless carry, bill makes it to Governor Ron DeSantis to sign, providing both Floridians and visitors to the State of Florida with additional avenues to carry a firearm.
On September 15, 2021, Representative Anthony Sabatini filed House Bill 103 (2021), which was refiled and is now House Bill 103 (2022), If it becomes law, the proposed legislation will allow individuals who are legally allowed to possess firearms to carry a firearm on or about their person in public without the necessity of obtaining a CWFL from the government. What does this mean to Floridians? The immediate ability for lawful gun owners to arm themselves for self-defense, without the need to first obtain a license in many instances. Currently, it can take the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services several months to issue a CWFL after receipt of an application. That equates to months of not being able to carry a concealed firearm on your person for protection. Further, Floridians will no longer have to pay a license fee or be required to take a firearms training course prior to carrying a concealed firearm on or about their person in nonprohibited areas and places. Of course, the removal of the firearms training or proof of proficiency with a firearms requirement is a major argument used by anti-gun advocates and opponents of constitutional carry as to why the bill should not pass.
If H.B. 103 becomes law, Floridians will still not be able to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into the prohibited locations currently listed in Florida Statute § 790.06. Furthermore, Floridians who elect not to obtain a CWFL will be prohibited from knowingly possessing a firearm on or about their person within 1,000 feet of a school, as they will no longer meet the exceptions of the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. It’s also important to understand that if constitutional carry does pass, it’s only applicable in Florida and a recognized license or permit will still be required in other states that do not currently have constitutional carry. Therefore, if you want to travel outside of the Sunshine State to a state that currently shares reciprocity with Florida and carry a concealed firearm on or about your person, you must obtain a CWFL.
In its present form, H.B. 103 also allows for open carry of firearms. So, if the bill does pass unchanged, Florida will become a constitutional carry state and an open carry state. Currently, H.B. 103 is in several committees and subcommittees. Please visit https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/103 to follow the bill’s progress.
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