Florida Poised to Become 26th Permitless Carry State – Sorry Constitutional Carry Not Here!
Florida Falls Short on Constitutional Carry
On January 30, 2023, House Speaker Paul Renner introduced House Bill 543, which if passed would make Florida the 26th state to allow concealed carry of a firearm without a permit or license. Currently with few limited exceptions, anyone wanting to carry a concealed firearm or weapon outside of their home must first obtain a Concealed Weapon or Firearm License (“CWFL”) from the Department of Agriculture. The requirements for obtaining a CWFL can be found in Florida Statute 790.06, which includes mandatory firearms training and background checks. Although people refer to this new bill as a Constitutional Carry bill, a more accurate name would be a Permitless Concealed Carry Bill. If passed, there would be 3 requirements to meet before a person would be authorized to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. First, a minimum age of at least 21 years old, Second, the person cannot be a prohibited person under state or federal law and finally, the person must have a valid identification on them while carrying. House Bill 543 is currently in the Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee and is scheduled to be heard next Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
What the Bill Does – Not Constitutional Carry
House Bill 543 allows anyone who meets the 3 requirements listed above to carry a concealed weapon or firearm in most areas of the state. In fact, most areas that a current CWFL holder can carry are open to permitless carry under the bill. Should this bill become law, there are however a few noteworthy exceptions and considerations that Floridians MUST keep in mind if they choose to carry without a permit.
House Bill 543 does nothing to fix the issue of possessing or carrying a firearm for the millions of Floridians who use marijuana legally under state law. In fact, this is a problem that needs to be fixed at the federal level. Specifically, HB 543 provides that in order to carry without a permit, you cannot be a “prohibited person under Florida or federal law” Users of a controlled substance are prohibited persons under federal law and marijuana is considered a controlled substance under federal law.
Gun Free School Zones not effected by Constitutional Carry Laws.
Try to get from your home to just about anywhere in Florida without driving through a Gun Free School Zone. The federal Gun Free School Zone Act (“GFSZA”) prohibits the possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. Violate the law and you commit a federal felony. There are exceptions however to the GFSZA. One of which is for people who possess a concealed carry license from the state in which the school is located. So under federal law, a Florida CWFL holder would be allowed to possess a firearm within a 1,000 feet of a school located in Florida, but one carrying under the permitless carry law would be committing a serious federal crime. This includes driving through the school zone. Without a CWFL, you will need to make sure your firearm is unloaded AND locked in a container or locked in a rack in your vehicle. In fairness, even if this was a true Constitutional Carry Bill, until the federal Gun Free School Zone Act is changed, this will be an issue for any and all permitless carry laws under any name.
Should HB 543 pass and become law, those who carry without a CWFL also need to know that they cannot carry outside the state of Florida, unless they travel to another state that allows permitless carry. Even states that have reciprocity agreements with Florida will not allow a person without a CWFL to carry in their state even though they can lawfully carry in Florida without a CWFL. Do not make the mistake of traveling into the Carolinas or any other state that requires a recognized permit to travel without a CWFL. Florida law only applies in Florida.
3-Day Waiting Period
Another advantage given to those with a CWFL will still not be given to those carrying permitlessly. Even if you already own a firearm and carry it without a permit, if you want a new or additional firearm, be prepared to wait for 3 days until you can take the new addition to your family home with you. This bill does nothing to change the time a non-CWFL holder, even one that already owns firearms, must wait prior to leaving the gun store with their new gun.
What Constitutional Carry Bill could possibly be considered complete without addressing and allowing for the open carry of firearms? Apparently one proposed in Florida. As we said in the beginning of this article the current bill is nothing more than permitless concealed carry. A step forward, but not Constitutional Carry. Amendments are being offered, we shall all have to wait and see what becomes of this bill and our hopes for true Constitutional Carry in the Sunshine State.
Should HB 543 pass and be signed into law, there are still many considerations a person in Florida must keep in mind before deciding to carry a firearm without a permit. This is definitely NOT constitutional carry. Although the bill presents many issues and problems for those carrying without a license, it is a step forward from the current laws and progress toward a true constitutional carry state.
Read the entire Bill for yourself. Click Here.
Current Car Carry Laws without a CWFL. Click Here.
Current Car Carry with a CWFL. Click Here.
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