Under Florida law (790.053), it is currently a misdemeanor to open carry a firearm other than the exceptions listed in F.S. 790.25 (e.g. during target practice under safe conditions and in a safe place not prohibited by law or going to or from such place, or when going to, or returning from, or when engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting). The case of Norman v. State of Florida is currently being heard at the Florida Supreme Court, challenging Florida’s ban on “open carry.”
It is a felony (790.06) to carry a concealed firearm or weapon without a license. Statute 790.06 also limits who may qualify for a concealed carry license and the place and manner in which a weapon may be legally carried. A person holding a concealed weapons or firearms license is still not authorized to carry in several locations listed in Florida Statute 790.06:
A license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into:1. Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05;2. Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;3. Any detention facility, prison, or jail;4. Any courthouse;5. Any courtroom, except that nothing in this section would preclude a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed weapon in his or her courtroom;6. Any polling place;7. Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district;8. Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof;9. Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms;10. Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building;11. Any career center;12. 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;13. Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile;14. The inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; or15. Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law.(b) A person licensed under this section shall not be prohibited from carrying or storing a firearm in a vehicle for lawful purposes.(c) This section does not modify the terms or conditions of s. 790.251(7).
In 2015, the Florida legislature passed (see House votes; Senate votes) and the Governor signed SB 290 into law, which provided an exemption from criminal penalties for carrying a concealed weapon or a concealed firearm when evacuating pursuant to a mandatory evacuation order during a declared state of emergency. Essentially, you do not need a concealed weapon or firearm license to carry your firearm concealed while evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or other local official as described by law.
Florida Statute 790.01 Unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms.—
(1) Except as provided in subsection (3), a person who is not licensed under s. 790.06 and who carries a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) Except as provided in subsection (3), a person who is not licensed under s. 790.0…6 and who carries a concealed firearm on or about his or her person commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO:
(a) A person who carries a concealed weapon, or a person who may lawfully possess a firearm and who carries a concealed firearm, on or about his or her person WHILE IN THE ACT OF EVACUATING DURING A MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER ISSUED DURING A STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED BY THE GOVERNOR pursuant to chapter 252 OR DECLARED BY A LOCAL AUTHORITY pursuant to chapter 870. As used in this subsection, the term “in the act of evacuating” means the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. The 48 hours may be extended by an order issued by the Governor.
(b) A person who carries for purposes of lawful self-defense, in a concealed manner:
1. A self-defense chemical spray.
2. A nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.
(4) This section does not preclude any prosecution for the use of an electric weapon or device, a dart-firing stun gun, or a self-defense chemical spray during the commission of any criminal offense…
Proponents of the legislation claimed Florida law prohibited people from taking their firearms with them in the case of an emergency declaration and mandatory evacuation order, thus forcing Floridians to leave their guns behind. In addition, testimony by the NRA and Florida Carry relayed examples of seizure of firearms in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.
Florida law grants the Governor certain “emergency management powers.” For example, under Chapter 252.36(5)(h) of Florida Statutes, the Governor may “suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of…firearms. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31-252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.”
Here are a few excerpts of Florida Statutes related to possession [of a weapon or firearm] in a conveyance/vehicle:
790.25 (3)(l) A person traveling by private conveyance when the weapon is securely encased or in a public conveyance when the weapon is securely encased and not in the person’s manual possession;
790.25 (5) POSSESSION IN PRIVATE CONVEYANCE.—Notwithstanding subsection (2), it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 [Carrying Concealed Weapons] for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. Nothing herein contained prohibits the carrying of a legal firearm other than a handgun anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize the carrying of a concealed firearm or other weapon on the person. This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense as provided in s. 776.012.
In case you’re wondering what “securely encased” and “readily accessible” means according to Florida law:
Per 790.001 (17) ”Securely encased” means in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
Per 790.001 (16) “Readily accessible for immediate use”means that a firearm or other weapon is carried on the person or within such close proximity and in such a manner that it can be retrieved and used as easily and quickly as if carried on the person.
Notice there is nothing in the law about a so-called “three step rule.”
If you’re evacuating or traveling across state lines, you should be aware of the various states’ laws regarding possession and/or transporting a firearm in your vehicle or on your person.
Transporting a firearm across state lines (Interstate transportation of firearms):
United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I – CRIMES
CHAPTER 44 – FIREARMS
Sec. 926A – Interstate transportation of firearms
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
(Added Pub. L. 99–360, §1(a), July 8, 1986, 100 Stat. 766.)
A prior section 926A, added Pub. L. 99–308, §107(a), May 19, 1986, 100 Stat. 460, provided that any person not prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm be entitled to transport an unloaded, not readily accessible firearm in interstate commerce notwithstanding any provision of any legislation enacted, or rule or regulation prescribed by any State or political subdivision thereof, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 99–360, §1(a).
Section effective on date on which Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, Pub. L. 99–308, became effective, see section 2 of Pub. L. 99–360, set out as an Effective Date of 1986 Amendments note under section 921 of this title.
U.S. Constitution, Amendment II: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Florida State Constitution, Article I, Section 8: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.”
Florida Constitution, Article 1, Section 2:
“Basic rights.—All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty…”
Website Disclaimer: From time to time, this website will post various excerpts of current events, legislation, political issues and other items of personal interest, etc. This is not intended to be legal advise, nor is it intended to include the entirety of related statutes, various legal opinions, case law, court rulings, interpretations, etc. If you have questions, talk to a lawyer, and as always verify what anyone tells you.