Federal vs State School Zone Laws
Having a firearm in a school zone is a complex and confusing issue because both Federal and State law apply. Let us first look at the restrictions under Federal Law. The Gun-Free School Zones Act prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm within 1000 of a school. However, there are several exceptions to this prohibition. The three most common exceptions are
- You have an unloaded firearm that is locked in a container or locked in a rack in your vehicle
- You possess a Concealed Carry license from the State in which the school is in. So under federal law, a Florida CWFL holder would be allowed to possess a firearm within a 1000 feet of a school located in Florida, but if that CWFL holder travels to Texas he or she would not be allowed to be within a 1000 feet of a Texas School.
- You are on private property, for example, your house is located within 1000 feet of a school.
Florida’s state law is different than Federal law. Under Florida law, an individual cannot possess a firearm on any school property, school bus stop or at school-sponsored events at any time, regardless if the school is in session or out. An individual can possess a firearm in his vehicle so long as it is securely encased or not readily accessible. However, this exception can vary among the different school districts as school districts have the authority to keep an individual from having a securely encased firearm in a vehicle under certain conditions. In order for this prohibition to be valid, the school district must have a written and published policy regarding securely encased firearms in a vehicle. If a person has a CWFL and they violate this law they can only be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor as opposed to a person who does not have a CWFL who would be committing a third-degree felony.
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