Vehicle Carry Laws in Florida
Florida Law allows the possession of a firearm within a private conveyance even without a concealed weapon and firearm license per Florida Statute 790.025 which reads in relevant part: it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapons for self-defense or other lawful purposes within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.
With a Concealed Weapon and Firearm License (CWFL) or recognized out of state equivalent, in a private car, there is no restriction on how you can carry your handgun, as long as it is concealed. This means that no part of the firearm is visible to the eye. Contrary to popular belief, there is NO three step law in the state of Florida to access your firearm in a vehicle.
Without a CWFL or recognized out of state equivalent in a private vehicle, the handgun must be securely encased or not readily accessible. Securely encased includes carrying a loaded handgun in a holster which closes over the handgun (not a pressure holster and not on your person), glove compartment, gun case or a closed container. Not readily accessible means locked in the trunk or vehicle storage compartment.
With a CWFL you may lawfully carry a firearm on your person or concealed in a compartment on or in the motorcycle, for instance, a saddle bag or backpack either on your person or strapped to the motorcycle.
Without a CWFL there is disagreement among lawyers on the manner and method you may carry a firearm while riding a motorcycle. It is clear that without a CWFL or recognized out of state equivalent, you may not conceal a firearm on your person. What is less clear is how to carry if at all on a motorcycle with no internal storage compartment. As you see above, Florida Law allows the unlicensed carry of a firearm within a motor vehicle. In Doughty v. State, 979 So.2d 1048 (3rd DCA 2008) it was determined that a motorcycle was private conveyance for purposes of 790.025. However, the court pointed out that the private conveyance exception found in Florida Statute 790.25(5) applies only to the carrying of a concealed weapon, “within the interior of private conveyance.” We interpret this language to require a person carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, while riding a motorcycle, to keep the concealed weapon securely encased in an interior compartment of the motorcycle. This leaves unclear what parts of a motorcycle constitute an interior compartment. For example, a compartment under the seat that lifts opened when no one is sitting on the seat is likely to be considered an interior compartment. What about a saddlebag that is permanently installed on the motorcycle? Is this an interior or exterior compartment? What about a saddlebag that is attached to the motorcycle, but easily removable? What about a backpack strapped down to the motorcycle, not worn on the person riding? These questions have yet to be answered by the courts. If you store your firearm anywhere but a truly interior compartment on your motorcycle, you may become the test case for this issue.
For the purpose of Florida Statute §790.25, a bicycle is not a conveyance under Florida law. Florida Statutes §810.011(3) defines “conveyance as including any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car …” Excluded from the list are bicycles and other self-propelled forms of transportation. Therefore, even if your bicycle has an interior compartment, you cannot carry a firearm while riding if you do not possess a valid CWFL.
Public Transportation Carry
In a public vehicle, such as a bus or train that operates solely within Florida, Florida Statute 790.25(3)(l) applies. With a CWFL it is lawful to carry your firearm concealed on your person. Without a CWFL Florida law allows a person to carry a loaded handgun that is securely encased and not in his/her manual possession. This likely means that the firearm must be in a secured case, within a piece of luggage, and not a gun case or bag carried on the person. As there are currently no cases interpreting this law, your guess is as good as ours and if you carry without a CWFL onto a public bus or train, you may become the test cast.
Public Transportation Carry (interstate)
Buses and Trains
Call the carrier well ahead of time and find out what their specific rules require. Federal law controls the interstate transportation of firearms. Typically, the rules will be very similar to flying with your firearms. Further, if the bus or train you are traveling on will be traveling interstate, even if you are only traveling within your state, you still should follow the federal rules. Your firearm must be unloaded in a locked hard-sided container, declared to the carrier and delivered as checked baggage to them.
The Special Case of AMTRAK
Amtrak trains are controlled by federal law, but there a special rules that apply to them. Those traveling on Amtrak trains should review the rules and regulations for transporting firearms and ammunition on Amtrak trains. These can be found by visiting the Baggage Policy & Service section of their website and choosing Special Items from the menu on the left, then scrolling down to Firearms and Ammunition and clicking on show details.
Commercial Truck Drivers
There are no federal regulations that prohibit a commercial truck driver from carrying a firearm in their truck. Similarly, there are no Florida Laws that prohibit this. As a truck driver travels from state to state, he or she must know the law of the state they are traveling in and must comply with each states law regarding possession of a firearm. An excellent resource is available to commercial truck drivers or anyone traveling to other states. The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States is updated annually and available online from Amazon and other sources.