Of the 22 million residents in Florida, 2.18 million have been issued concealed carry permits. The state of Florida is one of 30 of the United States that require such permits. If you’re looking to apply for a concealed carry permit, you’ll want to have a basic understanding of the state requirements, restrictions and penalties for misuse.
What is a Concealed Carry Weapon?
A concealed carry weapon refers to any gun that cannot be plainly viewed while the carrier is out in public. The gun may be hidden on your person or inside your bag or personal item, but it must absolutely not be anywhere in plain sight (commonly referred to as an open carry). The exceptions to this rule apply if the carrier is camping, fishing, hunting, engaged in lawful target shooting or in the businesses of dealing, manufacturing or repairing firearms.
Understanding State Requirements
It is not necessary to be a Florida resident to qualify for a concealed carry license in the state, as Florida is a “shall issue” state with CCW reciprocity agreements in place with several other states. These agreements mean that Florida law enforcement will recognize concealed carry weapons that were legally issued by other states (as long as those states agree to do the same for permits issued from the state of Florida). Currently, Florida holds these agreements with 37 states. There are, however, certain other qualifications that must be met in order to obtain the permit.
Applicants must first furnish proof of age. The minimum age requirement in the state of Florida is 21, however, if the applicant is a veteran or member of the US Armed Forces, they may qualify even if they are not yet 21. Additionally, applicants must complete a concealed carry class that is approved by the state and be able to prove their ability to handle a firearm. They must also be able to verify their status as a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien and must live within the United States (unless serving overseas in the Armed Forces). They may not have been convicted of 2 or more DUI’s or of any violent crimes (whether felony or misdemeanor) over the course of the previous 3 years. Other federal requirements may also apply.
Limitations on Concealed Carry in Florida
Once an applicant has received his/her concealed carry permit, there will still be certain restrictions regarding when and where it will be honored. You may not carry your weapon on any school, college or university campuses or facilities, within jails, prisons or detention centers, at bars or clubs, within courthouses or courtrooms, at any polling facilities, on property owned by police, sheriff, patrol or other law enforcement agencies and anywhere else deemed off-limits by Federal law.
Your Florida CCW is honored at roadside rest areas, state parks, state or national forests, within your vehicle, and anywhere else not listed as off-limits by the state or Federal government.
Discharging Your Firearm in the State of Florida
Purposely firing your gun (without malicious intent) within a public area in the state of Florida is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year of jail time. There are, however, ways to circumvent this. If the CCW was accidentally fired, if it occurred in a non-public place, if it was discharged in self-defense (of life or property), if the CCW owner was on official duty at the time of discharge, if it cannot be proven who discharged the weapon or that it was the weapon in question that was fired; all of these are defenses that may lessen or negate the initial charge.
The Application Process
The application process is relatively cut and dry, but in order to expedite it, make sure you are fully prepared. Determine whether or not you will be able to furnish the proof that you meet all of the eligibility requirements necessary and ensure that you have a firm grasp on the multiple state and federal laws pertaining to Florida concealed and carry permits. Then you are ready to complete the Florida Concealed Carry Online Course, or any other training which is recognized and approved by the state. Once all of these requirements are met, you can fill out your CCW application. This can be done by scheduling an appointment with any authorized Florida tax collector’s office of via the mail. If you choose the mail-in option, you will need to include a copy of your fingerprints (which can be acquired at your local police or sheriff’s office). You will receive your notice of approval or denial within approximately 90 days.
Once you’ve acquired your CCW permit, it will remain valid for the next 7 years (assuming there are no extenuating circumstances which might lead to the loss of the permit within that time). At that time, you will need to reapply in the same way.
If you need to make changes to your CCW permit (i.e., your name or address changes), you will need to fill out a change form and file it with the state (for a fee, of course). Any lost, destroyed or stolen permits should be immediately reported to the nearest police station or sheriff’s office.
Here are a few other things you may want to know:
Permits from other states are non-transferrable. If you want a Florida-issued CCW permit, you will need to apply within the state (but this won’t matter if you are currently permitted in a state with a CCW reciprocity agreement with Florida).
CCW permitting can be done at any time throughout the year.