Lawful Possession with a CWFL


First, it should be obvious that handguns or other weapons allowed to be carried under Florida Statute §790.06 – which is titled “License to carry concealed weapon or firearm” – must be

concealed when carrying pursuant to a CWFL.


  1. Improper exhibition of a deadly weapon or firearm is a crime

It is only a crime when a weapon or firearm

becomes unconcealed if it is exhibited in a “rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.” Therefore, our discussion will focus on what is legal under this standard.


If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or  other  weapon  shall,  in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same  in  a  rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in

§775.082 or §775.083.



This is an area that rightfully concerns a lot of CWFL holders and is a very misunderstood area of the law. Florida law states that a CWFL holder commits a crime if they exhibit their firearm or other weapon in the presence of one or more people in a “rude, careless, angry or threatening manner.” It is a defense to this crime if such weapon is displayed in self-defense. An unintentional, accidental, or inadvertent display is not a crime under Florida law so long as it was not done in a careless manner. See Florida Statute §790.10.


Obvious examples of intentionally displaying a concealed weapon would be in a heated verbal argument pulling up your shirt to reveal a portion or all of your handgun to another person, with the desire that they see it, or simply pulling your handgun out of its holster and waving it in the air in front of somebody in order to frighten them.


  1. Unintentional displays of a handgun are not a crime

What do you do if a gust of wind picks up your shirt and shows off your 1911 handgun? What about when your pants accidentally split


revealing your Spiderman underwear and your Sig Sauer? How about the time your purse accidentally opens, flashing your Desert Eagle? The good news is that none of these incidents are crimes under Florida law.


If a CWFL holder’s concealed handgun becomes unconcealed inadvertently, such as by “flashing” or “printing,” (see below) the CWFL holder is not breaking the law. Furthermore, under Florida law, a CWFL holder who is carrying a concealed firearm legally  is allowed to briefly and openly display his or her firearm to the ordinary sight of another person so long as it is not done in an angry or threatening manner. Florida Statute §790.053(1). This means an accidental display is not a criminal offense.


  1. What is “printing” and is it a crime?

What is printing? First, printing is not a legal term and it is not a crime. Further, the word printing does not appear anywhere in the Florida Statutes. Printing is a common street term that generally refers to the outline or characteristics of a handgun becoming visible under the clothing of a person. For  example, someone may be wearing extremely tight fitting clothes, and carrying a full size Glock 9 mm under these clothes, as a result the outline of the gun would be clearly visible, however, since the gun is covered  by a layer of clothing, the gun is still considered concealed under Florida law. It may be boorish behavior, bad taste, or even unwise, but under the plain meaning of the statute, it is not a crime.



A  person  in  possession  of  a  CWFL  may  legally  carry  their

handgun concealed any place where it is not illegal for them to


possess a concealed handgun under either state or federal law. The places prohibited under Florida law are located in Florida Statute

  • 790.06(12)(a) and will be discussed below. In addition, because a CWFL is issued by the State of Florida and not the federal government, a CWFL holder may not legally carry their concealed handgun on federal property unless specifically authorized by federal law.


As stated above, a CWFL holder may legally carry their handgun concealed any place where it is not illegal for them to possess a concealed handgun and therefore the list of places where a CWFL holder is allowed to carry is way to long to discuss each place. However, there are two places that a CWFL holder can potentially carry a firearm that requires special attention.


  1. Churches and other religious institutions

There is NO law in Florida prohibiting the carry of a firearm at a church or other religious institution. Generally, a CWFL holder can carry concealed at a place of worship in this state. However, there are some common exceptions at many religious institutions.


  1. Property of a school

Whether or not one may carry a firearm with a CWFL to church will depend on whether or not the church has a school component or day care component. Florida Statute §790.115 defines schools to include preschools. A child care facility includes any child  care center or child care arrangement which provides child care for more than five children unrelated to the operator and which receives a payment, fee, or grant for any of the children receiving care, wherever operated, whether or not operated for profit. Florida Statute §402.302(2). See also Fl. Ad. Code §65C-22. Therefore, if


your church has a school, daycare or child care facility with more than five children and receives payment or a grant for the children attending, you are not going to be able to carry a firearm to church services. This applies even if the school is not in the same building as the services you are attending and still applies even if the school is closed on the day you are attending services.


  1. Voluntary security force

Whether or not a church can allow congregants to act as an organized security force is a complicated issue, which there is much disagreement over. Due to the large number of shootings which have occurred at churches and other religious institutions, many churches have established security forces made up of volunteers from their congregation. Although as stated above, there is no prohibition from carry at church, having CWFL holders organize and act as security for the church may not be the best course of action and in fact may be illegal and can lead to both civil and criminal actions. The issue here is not whether an individual may conceal carry at church for his or her own protection. The issue is whether or not a group of CWFL holders may organize themselves, or be organized by the institution, to act as a private security company to provide security services to a church without being properly licensed even if uncompensated.


When a statute is not clear in its meaning, the court looks to the intent of the legislature to decide what was intended. When it comes to licensing security guards the legislature wrote:


493.6100 Legislative Intent.—“The Legislature recognizes that the private security, investigative, and recovery industries are rapidly expanding fields that require regulation to ensure that the interests of


the public will be adequately served and protected. The Legislature recognizes that untrained persons, unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons who are not of good moral character engaged in the private security, investigative, and recovery industries are a threat to the welfare of the public if placed in positions of trust. Regulation of licensed and unlicensed persons and businesses engaged in these fields is therefore deemed necessary.”


Here, the legislature clearly makes known its intent to regulate anyone providing  security  services,  whether  or  not  they  have a security license. Further, this statement of  legislative  intent says nothing about regulating only those  who  receive  pay for the provision of security services. Based on this statement of legislative intent written at the beginning of the statute, a judge might determine that the unlicensed provision of security services even by volunteers is forbidden. A judge could also look at the entire statute and say that if the legislature had intended to regulate unpaid voluntary security, they would have explicitly said so in the law. Currently, there are no reported cases dealing with this, so caution is recommended. Further, if CWFL holders are organized and operating with church knowledge and permission, the church is opening itself up to potential civil liability if something goes wrong and an innocent person is shot by one of these security force members, or if a member of the “security force” uses excessive force.


  1. Indian land, including casinos

Florida law, both criminal and civil applies on all Indian reservations in the state of Florida. Florida Statutes §285.16. Therefore, since the concealed carry of a firearm on Indian Land within the State of Florida is not specifically prohibited anywhere in Federal or


State law, a CWFL holder is allowed to carry a firearm on all Indian lands within the state. Of course, remember that a property owner can restrict the possession and carrying of a firearm on their property, so even if you have a CWFL, if you see a sign on the casino door that indicates that you cannot carry, or if you are asked to leave because you are carrying a firearm and you refuse, you can be arrested for trespassing. There are a couple of important other laws that effect the carry of firearms and other weapons on Indian Land. First, 18 USC 1165 prohibits hunting or fishing on Indian Lands without lawful authority or permission from the tribe and imposes the penalties of forfeiture of any and all game, fish, and peltries in addition to imprisonment up to 90 days. Second, 15 USC 1243 makes it illegal to possess a switchblade knife on Indian Land and imposes a fine up to $2,000 and up to 5 years in prison for such possession.


  1. Prohibited places for CWFL holders

There are a number of places under Florida law where persons are prohibited from carrying a firearm or a concealed weapon, whether or not that person is a CWFL holder. We discuss these places in detail in Chapter Ten. We also discuss both state and federal “Gun Free School Zones” in Chapter Ten to explain the limits of carrying or possessing a firearm at or near a school. Specific to our discussion on CWFL holders, however, under section 790.06, a CWFL holder may not legally carry a concealed handgun in the following places:


Any place of nuisance

A place of nuisance can be a building, booth, tent or place which tends to annoy the community, injure the health of the people, or corrupts the public morals. A place of nuisance can also be any location that is used by a criminal gang, criminal gang members,


or criminal gang associates for the purpose of engaging in criminal gang-related activity on two or more occasions. Finally, a massage establishment that operates in violation of Florida law is also a place of nuisance. Florida Statute §823.05. Essentially, this means that firearms may not be taken into any place where prostitution, secret meetings, gambling, or criminal activity takes place.



FLORIDA STATUTE §790.06(12)(A)(1)


A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into a place of nuisance as defined in Florida Statute §823.05.



After spending the day helping a friend move into a new house, Gordon decides to get a massage. Gordon’s friend tells him where to go and suggests that he ask for Bubbles. Gordon’s friend then  informs him for an extra tip Bubbles will do a lot more than just give a massage. Although Gordon is not looking for anything besides     a massage, he decides to go to see Bubbles. Gordon is a CWFL holder and because it is late and the parlor is located in a bad   area of town, he decides it is best to carry his gun for protection. When  Gordon enters the establishment, he immediately notices  all of the employees are young females wearing lingerie and that there is a sign on the front counter saying, “Cash Only”. Gordon requests Bubbles and she leads him to a room. Once in the room, Bubbles informs Gordon that for an extra $100 she will make sure he leaves very happy. Gordon politely declines her solicitation














OR JAIL; FLORIDA STATUTE §790.06(12)(A)(2),(3)

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any police, sheriff or highway patrol station. This also applies to any detention facility, prison, or jail.


Police, sheriff, or highway patrol station and any detention facility, prison, or jail












A CWFL holder is not permitted to carry a concealed handgun into any police, sheriff or highway patrol station nor any detention facility, prison, or jail. However, a CWFL holder is not prohibited from carrying the concealed handgun in the parking lot of any police, sheriff or highway patrol station. Florida Statute §790.251, makes it illegal to possess a firearm in your vehicle at any state correctional facility. Anyone who possesses a firearm on the grounds of any state correctional facility commits a felony of the third degree. Florida Statute §944.47(2). Therefore, if you are visiting someone serving time in a state prison, you must either leave your firearm at home or park off the property of that prison.


Courthouses and courtrooms


A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any courthouse or any courtroom.


Individuals are not allowed to take firearms or other weapons into courthouses or courtrooms, except for the presiding judge or persons given permission to carry by the presiding judge. Florida Statute

  • 790.06(12)(a)(4),(5). According to a Florida Attorney General’s advisory opinion from 2012, “a presiding judge may determine who will carry a concealed weapon in his or her courtroom and such determination necessarily allows the individual to proceed through the courthouse in order to access the courtroom.” Fla. Att’y Gen. Op. 2012-08 (2012).



FLORIDA STATUTE §790.06(12)(A)(6)-(8)

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any polling place; any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality,  or special district; or any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof.


Polling places, government meetings, and the Legislature or a committee of the Legislature


No firearms can be carried at any polling place in Florida. Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(6). Even if the location which one goes    to vote may usually be a place that a CWFL holder may carry a concealed weapon or firearm, during polling times it is off limits.


Meetings of the governing body of a county, public school, district, municipality, or special district are off-limits to carrying  a concealed or openly-carried firearm. Florida Statute §790.06(12) (a)(7). This means that an individual cannot carry at school  board, city council, and other types of meetings that involve local governments. Likewise, Florida law prohibits carrying a firearm at “any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof.” Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(8). Therefore, Florida law prohibits the carrying of a firearm at all government meetings, whether local  or state.


School, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any school, college, or professional event, unless the CWFL holder is a participant in the event and a firearm is used in the event.


Firearms are prohibited at any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms. This includes high school football games, elementary school “field days” and other non- firearms related school sports events. However, firearms are not


prohibited for use at school-shooting clubs or marksmanship competitions. Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(9).


Examples of professional athletic events in Florida include Jacksonville Jaguars or Miami Dolphins football games, Orlando City Soccer and Orlando Magic games. Firearms may not be carried anywhere on the premises where these events are held.


Private golf tournaments, sporting events, or rodeos

What about the scenario where a person decides to “host” a rodeo, golf tournament, or other sporting event on his private property? Are CWFL holders prohibited from carrying at such an event under the law? It depends on the manner in which the event takes place. If the hosted rodeo, golf tournament, or other sporting event is one of an amateur nature (and not collegiate or interscholastic), rather than professional, then the event likely falls outside the purviews of Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(9). On the other hand, if participants are persons who regularly compete in professional competitions; if there is a significant prize or purse associated with the event; if the event is sponsored completely or in-part by outside organizations and companies, then the event begins to look a lot more like a professional sporting event—even though it may not take place at a prominent public venue. It is worth pointing out that there is no case law on this subject, and it falls squarely within some of the legal “gray area” we see all-too-often in firearms law.


Elementary or secondary school facility or administration building

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building.


Career centers


A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any career center.


Career Centers are commonly referred to as technical schools. Section 1002.34(3)(a), of the Florida Statutes defines “charter technical career center” or “center” as a public school or a public technical center operated under a charter granted by a district school board or Florida College System Institution Board of Trustees or  a consortium, including one or more district school boards and Florida College System Institution Boards of Trustees, that includes the district in which the facility is located that is nonsectarian      in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and operations, and is managed by a board of directors.



FLORIDA STATUTE §790.06(12)(A)(12)

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into any portion of  an  establishment  licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for  consumption  on  the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.


Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose
















Under Florida law, a person may not carry their firearm in “any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premise, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.” This means that the carrying of firearms into pubs, taverns, and the like are barred. Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(12)


Unfortunately, this law is ambiguous and is subject to different interpretations as to whether restaurants with bars, casinos, and other places of entertainment, that are licensed to serve alcohol, but serve other purposes, are prohibited for CWFL firearms carriers. In a response letter U.S. Law Shield received from the Florida Department of Agriculture, it was stated that concealed weapons may be legally carried by a CWFL holder into a business that serves alcohol, so long as it is not their primary business. However,


firearms may not be carried into portions of the business where the service of alcohol is the primary function – e.g. the bar area   of a restaurant. What does a CWFL holder who is sitting in the dining area of the restaurant and has to use the restroom to do if the restroom is located in the bar area or passage through the bar is required to reach it? Unfortunately, there is no case law or authority regarding this situation. It seems that under Florida law, the CWFL holder would have to leave the restaurant, secure their firearm in their car, use the restroom, retrieve their firearm and return to the dinner table.


NOTE: Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated Is NOT A CRIME Florida Statute §790.151 prohibits a person from using a firearm when he or she is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, certain chemical substances, or any substance controlled under Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes (dealing with Drug Abuse Prevention and Control), when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired. The law does not require a person to be “drunk” or “intoxicated” but instead only requires a person’s normal faculties to be diminished as a result of alcohol or a controlled substance.


Normal faculties include, but are not limited to, the ability to  see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, normally perform the many mental and physical acts of daily life.


While the immediate meaning of “use” might seem to be shooting

a firearm or displaying it, the statute defines use of a firearm as


discharging a firearm or having a firearm readily accessible for immediate discharge. What does readily accessible mean? “Readily accessible for immediate discharge” means loaded and in a person’s hand. Florida Statute §790.151(1)-(2)


Therefore, while a loaded and concealed firearm may be brought into a restaurant that serves alcohol, a person who has been drinking alcohol to the point of being impaired or intoxicated should not have the loaded firearm in their hand, much less discharge it! If police suspect that you have discharged a firearm or held a loaded firearm while under the influence, they can ask you to submit to a chemical test (e.g. a breath alcohol test) to determine the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in your body.


Any college or university facility

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm.


Although a CWFL holder is not allowed to carry a firearm on campus, the statute does provide an exception for stun guns or other non-lethal electric weapon. The stun gun or electric weapon cannot fire a dart or a projectile and it must be designed for self-defense purpose only. In order for a CWFL holder to carry a stun gun or non-lethal electric weapon, he or she must either be a registered student, faculty member, or employee of the college or university.


Airport terminals and sterile areas

A CWFL holder commits a second-degree misdemeanor if the CWFL holder openly carries a handgun or carries a concealed weapon or firearm into the inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport.


Firearms are not allowed inside the passenger terminal or sterile area of any airport. However, there is an exception for those looking to take a flight with their firearms. A person may carry an unloaded firearm that is in a locked hard sided case into the terminal, but not the sterile area, of an airport for the purpose of checking the firearm in as baggage. If a CWFL holder is dropping off or picking up a passenger from the airport, they cannot go into the terminal with their firearm.


Private and commercial property with NO GUN signs

Carrying a firearm on another person’s property is not necessarily a crime. However, carrying a handgun while trespassing on another’s property is a crime. Specifically, whoever is not authorized, licensed, or invited to enter or remain in any structure or conveyance, but stays on the property willingly is trespassing. If the property has a visible sign, indicating NO GUNS, then a person who actually sees the sign is put on notice that they are not invited on the property with a firearm. Unlike other states, Florida does not have any  sign requirements such as specific sizes, locations for placement, specific language, etc. to make the sign effective notice. Further, if a person after having been authorized, licensed, or invited to first


come onto the property is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises or by a person authorized by the owner/lessee to leave the property, and then refuses to do so, they are trespassing as well.


If the above actions occur while carrying a firearm or other dangerous weapon, the person will be committing the crime of “armed trespassing.” Armed trespassing is a third-degree felony  in Florida. If asked to leave while carrying your firearm, do so    or risk losing not only your gun rights, but your freedom as well! See Florida Statute §810.09(1)(c).


Savannas Preserve State Park

It is unlawful for any person, except for a law enforcement or conservation officer, to have in their possession a firearm in the Savannas, except in compliance with a regulation established by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission applying to lands within the described boundaries. Florida Statute §258.157(2).


Parking Lots

In 2008 the Florida Legislature attempt to prevent, Florida business owners from prohibiting a CWFL or non-CWFL holder from having a firearm securely encased in the car in the business parking lot. Florida Statute §790.251. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule found in Florida Statute §790.251(7), including:

  1. Any school property including school bus stops, a school sponsored event or a school However, Florida Statute
  • 790.115(2)(a)(3), does allow a person to have a firearm securely encased in their vehicle unless the school district adopted a written and published policy waiving this exception and prohibiting firearms on their property. REMEMBER to check if there is such a written exception to this rule, before


you decide to park your vehicle on school property with a

firearm in it;

  1. Any correctional facility as discussed previously in this chapter;
  2. Any property where a nuclear power plant is located;
  3. Any company property on which the company is engaged in national security, aerospace or homeland security;
  4. Any property of a company licensed to make, use, store, transport, import, or deal explosives;
  5. Any motor vehicle of an employee or employer of a company; and
  6. Any other property upon which possession of a firearm is

prohibited under federal law.


NOTE: It has been determined that this applies to all of Disney World’s approximately 40 square mile property and the other theme parks in Florida.


However, the Federal District  Court  for  the  Northern  District of Florida has ruled that most provisions of this law are unconstitutional. See Florida Retail Assoc. v. Attorney General, 576

  1. Supp 2d 1281 (n.D. Fla. 2008) which held that only employees with CWFLs were protected by this statute.


  1. Florida law on taking a firearm in your vehicle

A CWFL holder may carry a concealed handgun on their person inside their vehicle with no problem. Rifles and shotguns do not need to be concealed and may be carried anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use, which includes activities such as self-defense and hunting. Florida Statute §790.25(5).


  1. Can a person legally conceal a handgun on their body while they are in their vehicle?

If a person possesses a CWFL, he or she may have their firearm

on their person inside the vehicle so long as it is concealed. Also, he or she may have it sitting anywhere in the vehicle that makes  it readily accessible so long it is concealed. In essence, having a CWFL allows the holder to have it anywhere in the vehicle they would like and not encased in anything so long as the firearm is concealed from the ordinary sight of another person.


  1. May a person legally carry a concealed handgun on public transportation?

Florida Statute §790.25(3)(l), restricts a person who is a CWFL

holder to have firearms, other weapons, ammunition, and supplies on a public conveyance (which includes buses, trains, etc.) only  if the weapon is securely encased and not in the person’s manual possession. Manual possession means that the firearm in not on the person or in a bag that is under the person’s control. An example would be a firearm in the luggage compartment under a bus that cannot be accessed from the interior of the bus.


  1. May a person carry a concealed handgun on a boat or watercraft?

Yes, Florida law extends the same privileges a CWFL holder would

have in his car to a boat or watercraft. However, it is worth noting that no firearms are allowed in restricted or secured Florida seaports. Florida Statute §311.12(3)(b). A person who possesses a concealed weapon or firearm on their person or in their motor vehicle at a secured seaport commits a first-degree misdemeanor. Each seaport is required by law to post appropriate signs and markers on the premises notifying individuals that firearms are prohibited.


  1. May a person with a CWFL carry a concealed handgun in a state or municipal park?

Yes. State or municipal parks are subject to state law governing

public places. A local municipality is preempted by state law from prohibiting the carrying of a concealed handgun by a CWFL holder and is, therefore, not authorized to prevent the legal carrying thereof. It is also permissible for a CWFL holder to possess a concealed handgun in a state park.


  1. May a person legally carry a concealed handgun into a business that has a no firearm sign?

No. If the business has a no firearm sign on the entrance door it puts

an individual on notice that people with firearms are not allowed inside the business. If a person does enter the business after seeing the sign, they have now become a trespasser. In fact, not only are they trespassing but they are committing an armed trespass, which is a third-degree felony, punishable up to five years in prison!


The key is knowledge. If a person sees the sign, then they know they are not wanted in the business  with their  firearm. Florida law is silent as to what a sign must look like to provide effective communication that CWFL holders are not allowed to carry in   the business.


  1. Federal property

A Concealed Weapons and Firearms License and the rights it provides are a product of state law and convey no rights to the CWFL under federal law. However, in certain instances, the federal government has recognized these state given rights on certain federal property.


  1. Federal buildings: firearms are prohibited
…whoever knowingly possesses or causes to  be  present  a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.


Under this statute, a “federal facility” refers to any building or part of a building that is owned or leased by the federal government and is a place where federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties. See 18 U.S.C. §930(g) (1). However, this statute does not apply to “the lawful performance of official duties by an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of law,” nor does it apply to federal officials or members of the armed forces who are permitted to possess such a firearm by law, or the lawful carrying of a firearm incident to hunting or “other lawful purposes.” 18 U.S.C.

  • 930(d). This statute does not govern the possession of a firearm in

a federal court facility.


  1. National Parks

CWFL holders are permitted to carry in National Parks located in Florida, but not buildings within those parks, such as ranger stations, because these are federal facilities. Under federal law, for firearms purposes, all federal parks are subject to the state law of the state in which the park is located. See 16 U.S.C. §1a-7b. A CWFL holder may, therefore, carry a handgun concealed in a federal park, but not in federal buildings in the park. Be sure to stay out of ranger stations, museums or gift shops with your firearm.


  1. VA Hospitals: firearms prohibited
No person while on property shall carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, except for official purposes.


One place where many law-abiding CWFL holders fall victim to federal firearm prohibitions is at the VA Hospital. The VA Hospital system is governed by federal law, which prohibits the carrying of any firearm while on VA property. This includes the parking lot, sidewalk, and any other area which is the property of the VA.


Under federal regulations, “no person while on property shall carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, except for official purposes.” 38 CFR

  • 1.218(a)(13). The “official purposes” specified refer specifically to the VA Hospital Police. Significantly, the Department of Veterans Affairs has its own set of laws and guidelines and is not controlled strictly by the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the general provisions regarding the prohibition of firearms on federal property. The VA law is much more restrictive. Many law-abiding veterans have found themselves in trouble, for example, when they valet-park their vehicle and the valet discovers a concealed handgun in the console or door storage area. How rigidly this law is enforced is determined by the individual hospital administrators as described in 38 CFR §1.218(a). However, regardless of how strictly the law is enforced, firearms are still prohibited under the law and the VA police are very aggressive in enforcing them.


  1. United States Post Offices: firearms prohibited
Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation, no person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.


Earlier in this chapter, we mentioned that parking lots, sidewalks, walkways, and other related areas are generally not included as places where firearms are prohibited even if the law or business owner prohibits entry into the building with a firearm. Under 39 CFR §232.1(l), firearms or other deadly weapons are prohibited on postal property including not only the building, but all property surrounding the building where a post office is located. This includes the parking lot (e.g., a person’s vehicle where a firearm may be stored), as well as the sidewalks and walkways. Like the VA Hospital, United States Post Offices are another exception to the rule. In 2013, there was a decision by a United States District Court addressing this issue in Colorado which allowed a license holder to bring his firearm into the parking lot of the Avon Colorado Post Office. However, in 2015, that case was reversed on appeal by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the Tenth Circuit’s reversal. It should be noted that the Tenth Circuit does not include Florida, and therefore this case had no legal effect.


  1. Military bases and installations: firearms generally prohibited Military bases and installations are treated much like the VA Hospital and S. Post Offices in that they have, and are governed


by, a separate set of rules and regulations with respect to firearms on the premises. On military installations or bases the carrying    of firearms or other dangerous weapons is generally prohibited. Military installations are governed by federal law under Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Moreover, the sections covering the laws governing and relating to military bases and installations are exceedingly numerous. There are, in fact, sections which are dedicated to only certain bases, for example, 32 CFR §552.98 which only governs the possessing, carrying, concealing, and transporting of firearms on Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield.


  1. Schools
    1. Florida guns in schools laws

The possession of a firearm on school grounds is generally illegal, with few exceptions. Florida Statute §790.06, contains a number of subsections that explicitly prohibit the carrying and possession of firearms on school grounds. Firearms are not allowed at any school or college athletic event not related to firearms. Florida Statute

  • 790.06(12)(9). Florida Statute §790.115 broadens this prohibition by applying it to all school-sponsored events and school property. A person may not possess a firearm or other weapon at a school- sponsored event or on the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop subject to the exception explained below, found in Florida Statute §790.115. This includes the grounds of any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building, and career centers. Florida Statute §790.06(12)(a)(10)-(11).


Florida does not allow for the concealed or open carry of firearms on university or college campuses. However, if an individual is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of the college or university, they may carry a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon


or device designed solely for defensive purposes, if it does not fire

a dart or projectile. Florida Statute §790.06(12).


As mentioned above, a person may carry, under one of the few exceptions laid out in Florida Statute §790.115(2)(a). A firearm can be carried in a case to a firearms program, class or function that has been approved in advance by the principal or chief administrative officer of the school as a program or class to which a firearm can be carried, or carried in a case to a career center having a firearms training range. Florida Statute §790.115(2)(a)(1)-(2).


School Parking Lots

Concealed firearms can be carried without a license, in a vehicle, under Florida law as long as a person is 18 or older, and the firearm is securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. Florida Statute §790.25(5). This extends to the carry of a firearm in a person’s vehicle on the grounds of a school or at a school activity; however, school districts are free to adopt written and published policies that waive this exception for purposes of student and campus parking privileges. Florida Statute §790.115(2) (a)(3). This means that, while firearms in vehicles on school parking lots are legal under state law, an individual school may have a policy that makes it illegal to have one on the lot. Further, provided that a school does not have a policy prohibiting firearms on the property, they still may not be taken outside of the vehicle or into a school building.


  1. Federal Gun-Free School Zone Law: 18 U.S.C. 922(q)

The federal “Gun Free School Zone” law is found in the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. §922(q). Under this law, it is a federal crime for an individual to possess a firearm that has moved through


interstate commerce (which includes virtually every firearm), on the grounds of or within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, or private school. This takes the prohibition on carrying a firearm to a school one step further than Florida state law – even making the mere possession of a firearm by an occupant of a motor vehicle driving past a school or dropping their child off a federal crime!


However, seven exceptions are provided:

  1. Exception one: if the possession is on private property which is not part of the school grounds. This means that a person living within 1,000 feet of a school can keep a firearm in their house.
  2. Exception two: if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the state in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the state, and the law of the state or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the state or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license. This means that a CWFL holder may legally carry a concealed firearm into a “gun free school zone.” However, there is one important note about the statute: a person can only lawfully carry in a school zone located in the state that issued the firearms license. Therefore, if a person has a Florida CWFL, they can only carry through Florida school If that Florida CWFL holder is traveling through another state, the exception under federal law does not apply to them, and they will be violating the law if they travel through a school zone in that state. It also means that a Florida resident, who holds a non-resident, non-Florida concealed carry license or permit, does not benefit from this exception and will be in violation of the law if they take a firearm into a school zone.


  1. Exception three: if the firearm is not loaded, and is in a locked container, or a locked firearms rack that is on a motor This means that if a firearm is unloaded and carried in a locked case – a glove box or trunk, for example – there is no violation of the federal law.
  2. Exception four: if the firearm is carried by an individual for use in a program approved by a school in the school This exception covers school-sponsored shooting activities, such as an ROTC program.
  3. Exception five: if the firearm is carried by an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a  school  in the school zone and the individual or an employer of the individual. This means that school security guards can carry firearms while on the
  4. Exception six: if the firearm is carried by a law enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity. This exception covers police officers while on-duty It does not appear to cover them while they are off-duty, even if they are required by state law to carry while off-duty.
  5. Exception seven: if the firearm is unloaded and is in the possession of an individual while traversing school property for the purpose of gaining access to public or private lands open to hunting, if the entry on school premises is authorized by school authorities. This means that if a hunter must cross school property to get to a lawful hunting ground, they must have the permission of the school,  and  the  firearm  must be unloaded.


  1. Reconciling Florida and federal laws on gun-free school zones Fortunately, Florida state law and federal law are similar in their allowances for firearms in school parking Florida state law


allows a firearm to be carried in a school parking lot if it is concealed, and either in a secure, locked container or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use, and exception three to the Gun Free School Zone Act above allows an unloaded firearm to be carried in a locked container or locked firearms rack.


The lesson from this is that if you intend to carry a firearm in   your vehicle onto a school parking lot while in your vehicle, the firearm should be unloaded and in a locked container or gun rack, thus satisfying the requirements of both state and federal law. This includes rifles and shotguns, which do not otherwise require storage in a locked container under Florida law. A rifle or shotgun stored in the vehicle according to Florida law is not necessarily legal under the Gun Free School Zone Act.


  1. Can municipalities restrict firearms rights?

No, because municipalities and counties are restricted by the Florida Legislature from passing ordinances further restricting firearm rights. Specifically, municipalities cannot restrict the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, manufacture, possession, storage, taxation, and transportations of firearms. Florida Statute §790.33


  1. HOW BIG OF A HANDGUN CAN A CWFL HOLDER LEGALLY CARRY? As we mentioned in Chapter Two, federal law dictates that any firearm which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter (.50 caliber) is a “destructive device” and is subject to the National Firearms Act (except for certain shotguns). Possession of any such firearm without the proper paperwork associated  with NFA firearms is illegal whether a person is a CWFL holder  or not. For more information on destructive devices and the NFA, see Chapter



Do I legally have to present my CWFL to a police officer if they ask for my identification and I am carrying my gun?

There is no requirement in Florida to notify a police officer that

you have a CWFL. However, anyone who is carrying a concealed firearm or weapon must at all times carry their CWFL and provide it to law enforcement upon request. Whether you voluntarily let the officer know you are carrying is a personal decision, however, from a practical standpoint, it may be a lot better for you to tell a police officer that you have a CWFL and a concealed weapon on you, than for them to find out on their own, as that might result in you seeing their firearm.



Yes, police are allowed to disarm CWFL holders in the interest

of officer safety. A police officer can disarm a CWFL holder and confiscate the CWFL of a person whom he has arrested for a criminal offense. In addition, a police officer may disarm a CWFL holder during an encounter with the CWFL holder if the officer reasonably believes it is necessary to disarm them for the protection of the CWFL holder, the police officer, or any other individual.


At the conclusion of the encounter with the CWFL holder, the officer shall return the firearm to the CWFL holder, if he determines that the CWFL holder is not a threat and has not committed any violation of the law resulting in arrest. Keep in mind, however, that the law does not dictate the manner in which the officer must return the firearm. Many times, CWFL holders receive their firearm back unloaded, disassembled, or placed in an area of the car where it was not originally located.






Having a Concealed Weapon and Firearm License can make you feel safer as you are out and about. But remember, a CWFL is a license to protect against trouble not to go looking for it! -James




A passenger in a vehicle stopped by the police with a CWFL  who

is carrying a concealed weapon is only required to present their

CWFL if they are asked for it by the officer.