Florida has recently updated its gun laws with significant changes to concealed carry permit regulations. On Monday, April 3, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 543 into law. This bill strengthens the Second Amendment rights of Florida residents, eliminating the requirement for concealed carry firearm permits. While concealed carry means a firearm must be obscured from the sight of others, it should be noted that the new law does not allow the open carry of guns in public.
Florida is the 26th state nationwide to enact permitless concealed carry. As of July 1, 2023, Floridians can carry a concealed weapon without a permit, provided they meet specific criteria. Here is what you need to know about this new law in Florida.
Criteria to Carry Without a Permit
Under the new law, individuals must meet specific requirements to legally carry a concealed firearm without a permit in Florida. They must:
- Be a United States Citizen
- Be at least 21 years old to purchase a gun, with exceptions for law enforcement, corrections officer, or active service members
- Keep the firearm concealed and carry valid identification
- Be legally allowed to possess a firearm under state and federal law
- Not be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm by any other law or court order
- Be a resident of Florida or a non-resident who can lawfully carry a concealed firearm in their home state
- Have no disqualifying felony convictions
- Have no convictions for a crime related to violence or drug abuse
- Have no misdemeanor charges for domestic violence.
The current restriction of barring firearms in certain places, such as government buildings, airports, schools, and other specific public venues remains unchanged.
Pros and Cons of the New Law
A key advantage of the permitless concealed carry law is that it makes it easier and more accessible for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Proponents of the law believe it will deter criminals from committing crimes, knowing they may face resistance from armed citizens. In addition, the new law eliminates the financial and administrative burden of obtaining a concealed carry permit. With the elimination of the permit requirement, gun owners will save time and money.
Opponents of the law argue that more guns in the community will increase gun violence because individuals with insufficient training can now carry concealed firearms. Others suggest that the law may make it challenging for law enforcement to differentiate between legal and illegal concealed firearms. Without proper training, how many tragic gun accidents and incidents will occur? Is this new legislation one-step closer to the Florida lawmakers approving open carry?
Why are Gun Purchasers Still Applying for Permits?
As of March 31, 2023, Florida had nearly 3 million licensed gun owners. Despite the new law that does not require a permit to carry, there has yet to be a drop in applications for permit applications. While the requirement of gun safety training has been eliminated, many prospective gun owners feel they want training in the safe handling of firearms. In addition, having a firearm permit will identify them if a gun is used for defensive purposes. A concealed carry card would identify them to law enforcement as the “good guy.” In addition, having a concealed carry permit will allow a person to carry their gun to another state that has reciprocity with Florida.
An Experienced Criminal Defense Team is Your Best Defense
The concealed carry law in Florida is a hotly debated topic, and it remains to be seen what the future of gun ownership will look like in our state. As with any change, this new legislation will likely raise many questions from Florida residents who want to understand and follow the law. We encourage you to contact The AP Law Firm with questions or concerns.
If you are facing gun-related charges, call The AP Law Group today. Our attorneys are proven trial lawyers with over fifty years of combined experience in a range of Federal and Florida criminal defense cases. We have earned a reputation as a highly successful criminal defense law firm. We believe in our clients and are committed to finding solutions, even in the toughest circumstances. Call to schedule a confidential appointment at (352)732-9191 at our Ocala or Gainesville, Florida, offices.