Should I Still Get a CWFL?

Should I Still Get a CWFL Under Florida’s NEW Permitless Carry Law?

Come July 1, 2023, Floridians and those visiting the Sunshine State will be able to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm without having a Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearm License (CWFL) or a carry license or permit from a state which Florida shares reciprocity, so long as they meet certain requirements needed to receive and maintain a CWFL.  Our previous article goes into great detail about how this new permitless carry law will actually work. For further detail about what those requirements are, you can also watch a video here that explains the law and requirements. Since Governor DeSantis signed H.B. 543 into law, we have received a lot of questions from responsible gun owners wanting to know if they should still get or keep their CWFL once permitless carry goes into effect.  In this article, we will discuss the reasons why we believe any Floridian who desires to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm absolutely MUST give serious consideration to getting or keeping a CWFL

5 reasons why getting a CWFL is important, even after July1, 2023.

Carrying a Firearm Through a School Zone

If you have minor children that you drop off at school, or if you find yourself driving through a school zone frequently, you’ll want to get a CWFL. If you are carrying a concealed firearm on your person pursuant to permitless carry in a school zone, and you do not have a CWFL, you are committing a federal felony. 18 U.S.C 922(q)(2)(A), commonly referred to as the Gun Free School Zones Act, makes it unlawful for an individual to knowingly possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.  The term “school zone” means in or on the grounds or within 1000 feet of a public, parochial or private school. One exception to this prohibition applies if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the state in which the school zone is located. The law further requires that before an individual obtains such a license, the State law must mandate law enforcement authorities of the State to verify that the individual is qualified to receive the license. In other words, because a Florida CWFL requires a background check and determination that the person is permitted to carry a firearm, those holding valid CWFLs are exempt from the prohibition above. Therefore, if you want to carry a firearm on your person while driving through a school zone in Florida you must have a CWFL.

Please note that although this exception to the The Gun Free School Zone Act, would also allow you to go on the property of a public, parochial or private school, Florida law prohibits anyone, including those with a CWFL, from carrying a firearm on one’s person on any school property, school bus stop or at a school-sponsored activity. You can learn more about lawful carry in or near a school zone here.

Carrying Concealed Firearms in Churches, Temples, and Other Religious Institutions

In June of 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 259 into law. HB 259, known as the Church Carry Bill, provides another reason to get a CWFL even though you can carry without one under the permitless carry law.  The Church Carry Bill allows those with a CWFL to carry a concealed firearm on their person on the property of churches, temples and other religious institutions, regardless of whether or not there is a school which operates on the same property and in spite of any other state laws which might prohibit the carry of firearms on the property. It is important to note that the law does not require churches themselves to permit the carry of firearms. As privately owned property, those in control of the property maintain the right to prohibit firearms from it. Only a person  with authority over the institution’s property informing you that you are prohibited from  carrying on the property will keep you from lawfully carrying there.

Although the permitless carry law amends certain sections of Florida Statue 790.06 to allow the carrying of a concealed weapon or concealed firearm without a CWFL, it did not amend Florida Statute 790.06(13). The Church Carry law still states: “Notwithstanding any other law, for the purposes of safety, security, personal protection, or any other lawful purpose, a person licensed under this section may carry a concealed weapon or firearm on property owned, rented, leased, borrowed, or lawfully used by a church, synagogue, or other religious institution. This subsection does not limit the private property rights of a church, synagogue, or other religious institution to exercise control over property that the church, synagogue, or other religious institution owns, rents, leases, borrows, or lawfully uses.” Under this law, if your religious institution has a school attached to it or shares property with a school, you are going to need a CWFL to legally carry a concealed firearm while attending religious services.

Exemption from the Mandatory Waiting Period

If you like having the ability to purchase a firearm from a gun store and take it home the same day you purchase it, you will still need to get a CWFL. Florida law imposes a minimum 3 day mandatory waiting period, excluding weekends and legal holidays, before an individual can take possession of the firearm they purchased from a gun store. This 3 day mandatory waiting period can be extended if more time is needed to complete a background check. However, those who possess a CWFL are exempt from the mandatory waiting period.  Florida’s permitless carry law did not amend the mandatory waiting period so if you want your firearm the same day you pay for it, you will need to possess a CWFL or meet one of the other limited exceptions found in Florida Statutes 790.0655.

Traveling with Your Firearm

If you ever want travel outside of the State of Florida, you will probably want to bring your firearm with you for self-defense. Before you enter another state with any type of weapon, you need to make sure that the states you are going to will allow you to carry while in those states. You are also bound by a state’s gun laws if you are just traveling through the state to get to your destination, unless you are carrying pursuant to the Federal Safe Passage Act, which we will discuss in a future article. Before you bring a firearm into another state, you must confirm that the state either allows permitless carry for out of state residents, or that they recognize Florida’s CWFL. If you carry in Florida without a permit and the state you are traveling to does not allow permitless carry, you will not be able to carry in that state unless you get a CWFL, even if they have reciprocity with Florida. Reciprocity agreements, or states recognizing the carry licenses issued by other states, only apply when the out of state resident has a permit to carry from their home state. If you want to bring your firearms with you when visiting other states, it is certainly best to have a CWFL.

Peace of Mind

Some people think everyone who is lawfully allowed to possess a firearm may carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm pursuant to Florida’s permitless carry law.  This is NOT true.  To carry under Florida’s permitless carry law, an individual must  satisfy the criteria for receiving and maintain a CWFL under Florida Statute 790.06(2)(a-f) and (i-n), (3) and (10). Those requirements are explained in detail in our previous article on the permitless carry bill. If you carry concealed without a license, believing you meet the requirements under Florida’s permitless carry law, but are wrong about meeting the requirements, you are committing a first degree misdemeanor, punishable up to 1 year in the county jail if you are caught carrying a concealed weapon and a third degree felony punishable up to 5 years in prison if you are caught carrying a concealed firearm.  The fact that you did not realize you did not meet the criteria for obtaining and maintaining a CWFL is not a defense to the crime. This means it is your responsibility to always be 100% certain you are qualified to carry under the permitless carry law.

If, on the other hand, you decide to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm and get a CWFL, the Department of Agriculture will double check for you to make sure you are qualified to receive and maintain a CWFL prior to issuing you one. Furthermore, if already have a CWFL but for some reason become ineligible, the Department of Agriculture will send you notice that your CWFL is suspended or has been revoked, therefore letting you know you cannot carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm. While it is true that the Florida Department Agriculture sometimes makes a mistake and accidentally issue  a CWFL to someone who is not qualified, having a CWFL does provide a person with an extra layer of protection. A prosecutor is going to be a lot more sympathetic to someone who was mistakenly issued a CWFL from the Department of Agriculture and who relied on that CWFL to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm than a person who is carrying under permitless carry and did not realize they were not qualified to do so.


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