Understanding the new concealed carry gun law in Florida.
Florida House Bill 543, which allows most adults to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, went into effect on July 1.
However, there is still a great deal of confusion about what the new "Permitless Carry" law does and doesn't change about Florida's firearms laws. It's important to know your rights and how an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect them.
What Florida’s new ‘Permitless Carry’ law (House Bill 543) changes
As of July 1, 2023, most adults in Florida can now legally carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit or license. You only need a legal ID (such as a driver's license or state ID) to legally carry concealed.
Previously, gun owners in Florida were required to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm, known as a Concealed Weapon or Firearm License (CWFL). Gun owners needed to apply for a CWFL from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), take a four-hour gun safety course, and pass a test.
With the passage of the law, Florida became the 26th state in the country to allow most adults to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, according to Forbes.
The permitless carry law doesn't change other aspects of gun ownership in Florida
Since the new law went into effect, there has been a lot of confusion about the laws that apply to firearms violations in Florida. It's important to recognize that the rules to purchase a gun in the first place have not changed.
You still need to be a United States citizen who is at least 21 years old, and you still need to pass state and federal background checks. Certain criminal offenses (such as felonies, violent crimes, and domestic violence) make you ineligible to both own and carry a weapon.
House Bill 543 also does not change where someone can legally carry a concealed weapon in Florida. It is still illegal to carry a concealed firearm in a courthouse, bar, police station, or within 1,000 feet of a school, among other locations.
Finally, open carry remains illegal in Florida, with exceptions for hunting, camping, fishing, and target shooting. And it remains illegal to display a weapon in an aggressive or threatening manner.
Reasons you might still want a concealed carry license
While House Bill 543 means you aren't required to have a license to carry a concealed weapon, you can still get a CWFL or renew an existing CWFL if you so choose.
"The current concealed carry licensing program will remain exactly the same," Wilton Simpson, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, said in a recent interview with Fox 13 News. There are several reasons it may still be to your advantage to get a CWFL, including:
- If you have a CWFL, the state government will verify that you meet the legal requirements for concealed carry and should notify you if you ever become ineligible. If you don't have a CWFL, it becomes solely your responsibility to know whether you are legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm.
- Florida's concealed carry licensing program has reciprocity with 37 other states. If you want to carry a concealed weapon in another state that has reciprocity with Florida and does not have permitless carry, getting your CWFL in Florida will satisfy that state's requirements.
- Having a CWFL means you may be able to avoid the three-day waiting period to purchase a handgun.
- Taking the class for your CWFL means you will know your rights and responsibilities, and having a CWFL means that you can prove to law enforcement that you have basic training in firearm safety and legal requirements if you ever need to use a weapon in a self-defense situation.
“You can’t play dumb with the law. So, if you’re not gonna go through the class you’re really gonna have to educate yourself on the places you can and can’t carry,” Ziadeh Farhat with Green Acres Sporting Goods in Jacksonville told Action News Jax.
Contact a criminal defense attorney if you're facing gun charges
The rules and regulations involving concealed weapons in Florida can be confusing. If you have been charged with a gun crime in Florida, it’s important to talk to an attorney who knows the law and understands how the legal system works in Florida.
Florida criminal defense attorney Mark Sieron of Aguilar & Sieron P.A. can help you every step of the way. We can review the details of your case, answer any questions you might have, then get right work on your legal defense.
Put your trust in a law firm that puts your legal needs first. Contact us and schedule an appointment today at our office in Green Cove Springs, Florida. We represent people facing serious criminal charges in Clay County and throughout Northeast Florida.