Beginning this Saturday, Orange County, Florida, home to The Firearm Firm, is requiring that face masks be worn in public. Ever since this pandemic started in Florida, we have received questions almost daily as to whether one can wear a mask while lawfully carrying their concealed firearm with a valid CWFL.
The short answer is: YES you can wear a mask when carrying concealed!
The short answer is: YES. You can lawfully conceal carry if you have a CWFL while wearing a mask in Florida. The longer answer, with exceptions and explanation follows.
So why all the confusion?
There has been a lot of confusion about wearing a mask in Florida in public. Florida has several laws that prohibit wearing a mask or face covering in public.
876.12 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on public way.
876.13 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on public property.
876.14 Wearing mask, hood, or other device on property of another.
876.15 Wearing mask, hood, or other device at demonstration or meeting.
These are the laws that are causing the confusion. However, these laws only apply in limited circumstances. If you do a little more digging, you will see that this only applies when someone intends to commit a crime.
The Statutes making it illegal to wear a mask ONLY APPLY in limited circumstances!
Florida Statute § 876.155 entitled “Applicability” states when the above laws apply. Most people stop reading after they finish the one statute they believe applies to their situation. Honestly, these laws could have been written as one statute with various sub-parts indicating all the crimes at the different places and when the laws were applicable, which would likely have created far less confusion.
If one reads Florida Statute § 876.155 we find that it tells us that the above Statutes only apply under certain circumstances. These are when a mask is worn in one of the above places or events:
(1) With the intent to deprive any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws or for the purpose of preventing the constituted authorities of this state or any subdivision thereof from, or hindering them in, giving or securing to all persons within this state the equal protection of the laws;
(2) With the intent, by force or threat of force, to injure, intimidate, or interfere with any person because of the person’s exercise of any right secured by federal, state, or local law or to intimidate such person or any other person or any class of persons from exercising any right secured by federal, state, or local law;
(3) With the intent to intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass any other person; or
(4) While she or he was engaged in conduct that could reasonably lead to the institution of a civil or criminal proceeding against her or him, with the intent of avoiding identification in such a proceeding.
A general prohibition against wearing masks in public is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!
Further, in Robinson v. State, 393 So. 2d 1076 (Fla. 1980) the Florida Supreme Court agreed with the position of Mr. Robinson, the Appellant in the case. The Court wrote, “Appellant contends that the statute deprives him of due process of law, denies equal protection, and infringes the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and privacy. We agree that the statute deprives him of due process because it is overbroad and decline to comment on the other arguments.
The Court went on to hold that, “[w]ithout speculating on whether the statute is intended to apply to any core activities which the legislature has an interest in preventing, we find that this law is susceptible of application to entirely innocent activities. It is susceptible of being applied so as to create prohibitions that completely lack any rational basis. The exceptions provided by section 876.16, Florida Statutes (1977), are not sufficient to cure this fatal overbreadth.
In reaction to this decision, the Legislature added section 876.155. This addition cured the constitutional dilemma. The new section specified the few instances in which the prohibitions can legally stand.
So, the answer is, as long as you do not intend to engage in any of the prohibited activities above, including committing a crime while wearing a mask, you can be out in public, with a valid CWFL, a mask and a concealed weapon lawfully.