In my prior life as an Assistant State Attorney, I was given a badge and legal authority to carry a concealed firearm without the need for obtaining a license. Those times have changed. Florida residents are required to obtain a concealed weapons and firearm license in order to possess and conceal a firearm on their person in most places outside of their home. An exception to this requirement is that a permit is not needed to transport a firearm in a motor vehicle, so long as it is "securely encased" or otherwise "not readily available for immediate use". Florida Statute 790.25. As a practical matter, I strongly recommend all firearm owners to obtain a concealed firearm license to avoid any issues regardless of where the person and /or the firearm is located.
Florida Statute 790.06 authorizes the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue concealed firearm licenses. As to why the Legislature did not place this authority with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, I have no answers. To be eligible for a Florida concealed weapon or firearm license:
1. You must be 21 years of age or older.
2. You must be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm.
3. Unless you are a member of the Armed Forces, you must reside in the United States and be a U.S. citizen or deemed a lawful permanent resident alien by the Department of Homeland Security. Resident aliens must provide a valid Permanent Resident Alien Card.
The statute provides a number of reasons why a person may be deemed ineligible for a concealed weapons license.
1. The physical inability to handle a firearm safely.
2. Having a previous felony conviction. (unless your right to carry a firearm has been restored).
3. Entering a plea, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or the sentence is suspended, for a felony or a misdemeanor crime of violence. This prohibition applies until three years have elapsed since probation and any other conditions of the sentence have been satisfied.
4. A conviction for a misdemeanor crime of violence in the last three years.
5. A conviction for a drug offense or multiple arrests for drug offenses.
6. A record of drug or alcohol abuse.
7. Two or more DUI convictions within the prior three years.
8. Being committed to a mental institution or found incompetent or mentally defective.
9. Failing to provide proof of proficiency with a firearm.
10. Having been issued a domestic violence injunction or an injunction against repeat violence that is currently in force.
11. Renouncement of U.S. citizenship.
12. A dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
From the respective lists, you can see that while obtaining a license is fairly simple to obtain, there are many circumstances under which a person can be disqualified. Most have to do with the typical warning signs that a person has a proclivity to commit violent acts, is mentally incompetent, or has substance abuse issues - all signs which have been ignored in the past and led to tragic circumstances.
To streamline the application process, you can go to:
Should you have any questions whether any of the above disqualifiers apply (especially as to prior criminal records), please contact me at my office at 727-822-3700 for a no cost consultation.