All 50 U.S. states have laws that allow a person to carry concealed firearms or weapons for lawful purposes such as self-defense. 33 U.S. states require a permit or license to carry concealed firearms or weapons. Seventeen states do not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Of the 33 states that require weapons permits, 23 are “shall issue,” which means they issue permits to any applicant who meets the requirements as set forth by the state’s applicable laws about obtaining a concealed weapon for defensive purposes. The remaining ten states are “may issue,” which means they have legal discretion to issue or deny permits. There are approximately 19.5 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States.
The decision to obtain a firearm is a major event and not one to be taken lightly. Any gun owner needs to have a solid understanding of the regulation of firearms in the state where they reside and federal and state laws nationwide. Knowledge of gun laws applies to the sale of all firearms from licensed dealers, whether handguns or rifles. Still, when it comes to carrying a concealed weapon, for safety, both for the owner and the public, it is vital to be fully aware of the responsibilities of having a concealed weapon permit.
One of the best ways to learn handgun laws in any state is to attend at least one firearms safety training class. Across the United States, the certification process varies. Still, all permit programs include an education component, either in person or online. Applicants must pass an exam that confirms their understanding of gun safety and carrying a concealed weapon exclusively for defense and lawful purposes.
Applicants must also display basic proficiency with a handgun by firing an average of five rounds at a target using an ordinary sight. Most shooting ranges include a Concealed Carry Permit course as part of their service so applicants can take relevant knowledge and shooting tests at the same time at the same place.
Florida Concealed Carry Basics
The State of Florida oversees all Florida firearms laws, superseding all local ordinances, and is considered favorable towards gun owners in relation to other states. Culturally, Florida residents support gun ownership (and firearms safety!) for many reasons, including, but not limited to, defense of life to prevent bodily harm, recreational shooting activity, lawful hunting expeditions, and sporting activities. Floridians are generally opposed to gun regulation.
Nevertheless, Open Carry is illegal in Florida even if you have possession of a permit or license. There are some limited situations during which Open Carry is permitted, such as an organized shooting competition, hunting, camping, fishing, or traveling to and being engaged in lawful target shooting.
In Florida, background checks for private gun sales are not required. While there is usually no mandatory period to wait when purchasing a rifle, in most cases, there is a minimum three-day waiting period before one can take possession of a firearm and carry it as a concealed weapon.
Florida law does not require concealed carry disclosure to a law enforcement officer. Drivers with a concealed carry permit are not required to tell an officer they are armed in the event of a traffic stop. However, if a police officer asks a driver if they are armed, he or she must answer the question. The officer is legally allowed to ask to take possession of the weapon but is technically not allowed to keep it.
As far as concealed carry permits, Florida is a “shall-issue” state, which applies to resident and non-resident permits. Its Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues licenses to those who meet the essential criteria detailed below and has issued over 2.1 million Concealed
Weapon Licenses, which is almost 10% of the state’s population. The primary statute that governs Concealed Weapons Licenses is:
Florida Statutes Title XLVI. Crimes § 790.06. License to carry concealed weapon or firearm.
(1)The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is authorized to issue licenses to carry concealed weapons or concealed firearms to persons qualified as provided in this section. Each such license must bear a color photograph of the licensee. For the purposes of this section, concealed weapons or concealed firearms are defined as a handgun, electronic weapon or device, tear gas gun, knife, or billie, but the term does not include a machine gun as defined in s. 790.001(9) . Such licenses shall be valid throughout the state for a period of 7 years from the date of issuance. Any person in compliance with the terms of such license may carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm notwithstanding the provisions of s. 790.01 . The licensee must carry the license, together with valid identification, at all times in which the licensee is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or firearm and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer. Violations of the provisions of this subsection shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of $25, payable to the clerk of the court.
Concealed Weapon Licenses are good for seven years before renewal is necessary.
Reciprocity in Florida
In addition, individual U.S. states have entered into “Reciprocity Agreements” with other states that honor a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) from another state, with varying restrictions. Multi-state permits allow permit holders to carry concealed firearms or weapons in many states that honor that particular permit.
Florida accepts licenses from other states only if that state agrees to honor a Florida concealed carry license. Florida currently has reciprocity agreements in place with 36 states that honor Florida’s license in their state. Fourteen states do not honor a Florida license. It is important to note that state firearms laws are different and a Florida license holder will be subject to the laws of whatever state in which they are traveling.
Requirements to be Issued a Concealed Weapons License
Florida has a list of requirements for who is or is not eligible to receive a valid license.
- Must be a resident of the United States and a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident alien of the United States.
- You must be 21 years old or older, those in active-duty military service, or an honorably discharged veteran.
- Does not suffer from a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a weapon or firearm.
- Is not ineligible due to a felony conviction(s) resulting from prosecution for committing a crime.
- Has not been committed by mental health services for the abuse of a controlled substance.
- Does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired.
- Desires a legal means to carry a concealed weapon or firearm for lawful self-defense.
- Has not been adjudicated an incapacitated person by appropriate mental health services.
- Has not been committed to a mental institution.
- Has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony.
- Has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on the commission of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
- Has not been issued an injunction that is currently in force and effect and that restrains the applicant from committing acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violence or any similar crime.
- Is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by any other provision of Florida or federal law.
- Is not the target of any current or ongoing criminal prosecution.
Where You Can Carry a Concealed Weapon
In Florida, licensees, or non-residents with permits from a state with which Florida has a Reciprocity Agreement, are authorized to carry concealed can carry or store concealed weapons in:
- Any location not specified as an exception.
- Any location designated private property be it residential or commercial.
- A private motor vehicle. NOTE: A concealed carry permit is not required if the firearm is secured in the glove compartment or trunk of a private vehicle.
- State and National Parks and National Forests unless forbidden by federal law.
- Rest areas.
- Restaurants (but not bars, or the bar area of a restaurant).
- Parking lots for employee vehicle parking.
- Any vehicle used for mass transit or public transportation such as buses or trains. There are exceptions, most notably any school bus.
Where You Can’t Carry a Concealed Carry Weapon
In Florida, licensees, or non-residents with permits from a state with which Florida has a Reciprocity Agreement, are not authorized to Open Carry or carry concealed firearms or weapons into:
- Any police station, sheriff department, or highway patrol station.
- Any detention facility, prison, jail, or other correctional institution.
- Any courthouse.
- Any courtroom, except that nothing in this section would preclude a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed weapon in his or her courtroom.
- Any polling place.
- Any property that hosts the meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality.
- Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof.
- Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms.
- Any school-sponsored event regardless of whether the property belongs to the school.
- Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building.
- Any school bus or similar vehicle whose primary purpose is the transportation of students.
- Any career office centers.
- Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.
- Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes, and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile.
- The inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft.
- Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law.
- All Walt Disney World Resorts, including parking areas.
Applying for Florida’s Concealed Weapons License
Florida’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services issues Concealed Weapon Licenses to residents and non-residents. It takes up to 90 days to get a license, and the cost of processing is $97 (plus a discretionary $12 – $22 convenience fee). A Renewal License is $57 for a resident license and $99 for a non-resident license. License Renewals follow the same process.
Instant check is becoming more widespread, making the application for a license in minutes possible. However, for the moment, a waiting period is part of the process of getting a Florida Concealed Weapon License. You can apply for a concealed weapons license in-person or online in five easy steps.
In-Person Process For Florida Firearm License Application:
1. If required, complete an approved firearm training course at a facility authorized to administer the course. Most shooting ranges offer the course and supply a gun for the shooting test (which takes place at an indoor range) and can provide the necessary certificate of completion.
2. Make an appointment with the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to submit your application for your carry license.
3. Go to your appointment and complete the permit application. You will need a valid driver’s license and a certificate showing that you have completed an approved firearms training course. At this time, you will pay any application fees, and an on-site fingerprinting service will fingerprint you.
4. Complete a psychological assessment (not every county). 5. Notification of the status of your application will be sent by mail.
Unless you do not meet the requirements set forth in Florida’s state law, you will be issued a carry license.
Online Process for Florida Firearm License Application
1. If required, complete an approved firearm training course.
2. Get a digital passport-style photo.
3. Forms are on the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website. Complete the online application, which will require proof of your firearms training course and your new photo. At this time, pay any application fees and submit your application.
4. Within 90 days, arrange to be fingerprinted by the Division of Licensing Regional Office or Law Enforcement Agency.5. The Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services will notify you by mail if your application was approved.
For More Information:
The information in this article is only a general overview of Florida’s concealed carry laws and processes. For more information about Florida Concealed Weapons License, see: