NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm
Prohibited Places for Guns in Florida: Laws, Exceptions and Criminal Penalties
Florida’s gun laws allow for both open and concealed carry in many public places, but there are some locations where it is illegal to possess a firearm even with a concealed carry permit. Understanding where you can and cannot bring a gun is important for all gun owners in order to avoid criminal penalties. This article will provide an overview of prohibited places for guns in Florida, exceptions to the rules, and potential criminal consequences for violations.
Schools and School Events
One of the biggest prohibited locations for guns in Florida is at schools and school-sponsored events. Specifically, it is illegal to possess a firearm at the following:
- Any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms
- Any school administration building
- Any portion of an elementary or secondary school facility
- Any career center
- Any college or university facility
This prohibition applies even if you have a valid concealed carry permit. The ban includes all events sponsored by a school, so sporting events, dances, theater performances etc. would all be off-limits.There is one exception – you can store a firearm in your vehicle at a school if it is securely encased, meaning in a closed container like a glove compartment. However, you cannot actually carry it on your person or have it readily accessible. Violating the school firearm ban is a third-degree felony under Florida statute 790.115.
You also cannot carry a gun into any government building in Florida, even with a concealed carry license. Specifically prohibited government locations include:
- Any police, sheriff or highway patrol station
- Any detention facility, prison or jail
- Any courthouse
- Any polling place
- Any meeting of a government body like a county commission, school board, city council, etc.
The courthouse ban extends to courtrooms – judges can choose to allow firearms but otherwise they are prohibited. The polling place ban only applies when voting is occurring, so you can possess a firearm there at other times. Violating the government building ban is a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida statute 790.06.
You cannot carry a gun past airport security into the sterile area of any Florida airport. This means you cannot have a firearm at the passenger gates, restaurants/shops past security, or on an airplane. However, you can possess an unloaded firearm in a secure container in checked baggage on a flight. You can also carry a gun into the non-secure public areas of an airport as long as you are legally allowed to possess a firearm otherwise.
It is illegal to possess a firearm inside any business that is primarily engaged in selling alcohol for on-site consumption. This includes bars, nightclubs, etc. The ban only applies to the portion of an establishment with the alcohol license, so you can carry in a restaurant as long as you are not seated in the bar area. It is also illegal to carry while you are actually drinking alcohol, even if it is a restaurant.
In general, you cannot carry a gun onto private property where the owner has posted a no guns sign or has otherwise requested that firearms not be brought on site. This includes the homes of friends/family if they ask you not to bring a gun. The prohibition does not apply if you stay inside your vehicle with the gun securely encased.
If you are caught possessing a firearm in any prohibited location in Florida, you face criminal penalties even if you have a valid concealed carry permit. The exact penalty depends on the type of location:
- Third Degree Felony: Possession of a firearm at a school or school event
- Second Degree Misdemeanor: Possession of a firearm at a government building, airport sterile area, or a business that sells alcohol for on-site consumption
- First Degree Misdemeanor: Possession of a firearm someplace you’ve been warned not to bring a gun, such as private property with a no guns sign posted
A third degree felony can be punished by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A second degree misdemeanor can lead to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. A first degree misdemeanor can result in 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
There are a few exceptions that allow possession of firearms in some prohibited places:
- Schools: You can keep a gun locked in your vehicle at a school parking area as long as it stays securely encased.
- Private Property: You can keep a firearm locked in your vehicle even on private property where guns are prohibited.
- Going to/from a car: You can possess a handgun for a brief time if you are moving it directly from a car to home or business and vice versa. It must stay securely encased.
- Airports: You can possess an unloaded gun in a secure container in checked baggage at an airport.
- Courthouses: Judges can choose to allow firearms to be carried in their courtroom by specific people.
While Florida has relatively permissive gun laws overall, there are a number of prohibited locations where you cannot carry a firearm even with a valid concealed carry permit. Violating these bans can lead to criminal charges and stiff penalties like jail time and fines. It is essential that all gun owners know where they can and cannot possess guns in order to stay on the right side of the law. Be sure to check for no gun signs whenever visiting private property and steer clear of schools, government buildings, airports, courthouses, and other prohibited sites. With proper precautions, you can avoid any issues and safely exercise your Second Amendment rights.
FDACS, “Possession Restrictions”
Florida Legislature, “790.06 License to Carry Concealed Weapon or Firearm”
Florida Legislature, “790.115 Possessing or Discharging Weapons or Firearms at a School-Sponsored Event or on School Property Prohibited”
Florida Legislature, “790.251 Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles for Self-Defense and Other Lawful Purposes”
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, “Permitless Carry in Florida”