Are “No Gun” Signs Enforceable?
Walking up to your favorite restaurant you see a new, “No Guns Allowed” sign. What do you do now? You have several choices:
- Find a new favorite restaurant.
- Go back to your car and leave your gun in it.
- Ignore the “No Gun” sign and proceed into the establishment.
In deciding which is the best option, it is crucial to know how Florida law handles “No Gun” signs.
Florida Law and “No Gun” Signs
Unlike states, such as Texas, Florida Statutes do not directly address whether “No Gun” signs are enforceable. For Example, Texas law dictates what must be in a “No Gun” sign for it to be enforceable. see Texas Penal Code § 30.06 and § 30.07. Further, these laws dictate the dimensions and placement of the sign. As a result, in Texas, citizens know where they can and cannot carry their firearms.
Texas 30.06 Sign
Florida Statutes do not have any regulations pertaining to “No Gun” signs. Consequently, the citizen’s of Florida do not know if a posted sign is legally effective. Further, private property owners create their own “No Gun” signs or purchase ready made ones from sign companies.
So the question remains, “Is the ‘No Gun’ signed posted at your favorite store or restaurant enforceable?”
“No Gun” Signs May Be Enforceable
The answer to this question is not simple. There are several different opinions in the legal community in regards to whether these signs are enforceable. Unfortunately, there are no reported cases to give us the answer. Without a courts opinion, you may become the test case if you choose to ignore a sign and carry your firearm inside. Florida Statute 810.08(1) is titled Trespass in Structure or Conveyance. Florida Statute 810.08(1) states:
Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance. (emphasis added)
A store or restaurant has implicitly invited the public into their establishment to conduct business. However, if they have posted a “No Gun” sign they are informing the public that their implied invitation to the public has restrictions. In this case the restriction prohibits entry with a firearm. As a result,entering with a firearm, is an unauthorized entry.
If you ignore the sign
If you decide to ignore the sign and enter the establishment, the owner may call the police. As a result, you may be arrested. To prove armed trespass in a structure or conveyance, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you willfully, entered the establishment without being invited. According to the Florida Jury Instruction 13.3 Trespass-In Structure or Conveyance, “Willfully” means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. Therefore, the government must prove that you saw the “No Gun” sign. Alternatively, proof that you knew that you were not invited into the establishment with a firearm will suffice.
You will be convicted if the jury believes you knew that you were not invited into the establishment with your firearm. Obviously, the government will use the posted sign as evidence that you had the requisite knowledge. Unfortunately, no case law exists to determine if “No Gun” signs are enforceable. However, we do not believe it is worth the risk. If convicted you could face up to 5 years in prison. The choice is yours. Do you want to risk becoming the test case?
About the Firearm Firm
The Firearm Firm is a statewide Second Amendment and Self-Defense law firm. We proudly serve the people of the State of Florida. We strongly believe that all gun owners need to be armed and educated. Therefore, if you have any questions about Florida Gun Law, visit our website, search our knowledge base, or leave a question for us to answer.