What does 'constitutional carry' mean and how would it change gun laws in Florida? (2023)

Florida may become the 26th state to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns anywhere without permits under legislation endorsed by House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and the Florida Sheriffs Association.

The idea has the backing of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who previously promised that "before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on" permitless carry or what supporters call a "constitutional carry" bill."

But how, exactly, would permitless carry change Florida's existing gun laws?

Permitless carry:Florida lawmakers move to let gun owners carry without permit in 'Constitutional Carry' bill

Florida Legislature 'will get it done':Gov. DeSantis says Florida Legislature will pass 'constitutional carry' gun law

What does permitless carry or 'constitutional carry' mean?

Under permitless carry legislation, a person who legally owns a firearm may carry it in public, visibly or concealed, at almost any time or place, without training, registration or government licensing. Simple as that.

Permitless carry debate:A look at gun law changes being considered across the U.S.

The fight for and against guns:Many states were already advancing new gun rules this year, even before recent mass shootings

Under 'constitutional carry' laws, can anyone carry a gun wherever they want to?

Not quite. And the laws vary fromstate to state.

First and foremost, you must be legally allowed to carry a firearm under state law. Age, criminal history, location,residency and other restrictions may still apply.

Some states may keep restrictions on carrying firearms or other weapons other than handguns and may ban firearms at locations such as polling places while voting is taking place, government meetings open to the public, county courthouses,etc. Private property owners still may choose to banfirearms on their property.

(Video) What does permitless carry mean for Florida residents?

There are federal laws against carrying firearms, even with a permit, in federal courthouses, buildings, the sterile area of an airport, national cemeteries, military bases unless you are on-duty military police or have exemptions, post offices, Native American reservations or tribal colonies,and other federally controlled locations.

Some states with permitless carry laws also may allow businesses, healthcare facilities or educational institutionsto limit firearms on the premises, although supporters have pushed for limiting public universities from restricting firearms on campuses on the grounds that public possession of firearms could help stop a mass shooting.

Permitless carry laws, called "constitutional carry" laws by supporters, also have been called "unrestricted carry."

Is permitless carry, what supporters call 'constitutional carry,' the same as 'open carry'?

No, although there is overlap. A quick primer:

"Open carry" means you can publicly carry a legally owned firearm that is kept in plain sight or partially concealed, usually holstered. Some states require a separate permit or license for this, most do not. Three states— California, Illinois and Florida— currently ban open carry.

"Concealed carry" means you can publicly carry a legally owned firearm that is hidden from view. Concealed carry is currently legal in all 50 states but some states, such as Florida, require special training and a license before it is allowed.

"Permitless carry" allows both, without permits, licensing or training.

U.S. Concealed Carry:Concealed carry states

Is 'constitutional carry' the same as 'Right-to-Carry'?

Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws refer to the entire class of legislation allowing legal firearm owners to carry concealed weapons, either without a permit or with one in states with requirements for them. Permitless carry laws would be the same idea taken a step further. "Constitutional carry" has become the favored term of supporters for permitless carry in discussions of concealed carry laws, possibly because it's catchier and adds an emotional, patriotic impact.

Permitless carry has been a prime priority for the National Rifle Association, said group spokesperson Lars Dalseide.

“NRA believes this is an important piece of legislation as Americans should not have to pay fees and taxes and get a license to exercise their right to self-defense and to defend their loved ones outside their home,” Dalseide told USA Today.

(Video) Constitutional carry gun law passes Florida House

What are Florida's gun laws now?

Florida does not require a permit or license to buy a gun and does not require registration — you must be a resident 21 or older unless you are a law enforcement or corrections officer or are in military service — but you do need a license to carry a concealed weapon. There are restrictions on gun ownership for people convicted of a felony, dishonorably discharged, adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or other conditions recognized by the state.

There is no limit on the number of firearms you can own or buy in a single transaction. Background checks are required and there is a three-day waiting period, although individual counties and cities may extend them up to five days.

Florida firearms:What you need to know about buying a gun in Florida

Fishing while packing:Florida allows openly carrying guns when fishing, camping, hunting

Openly carrying a gun is illegal in Florida. It's a second-degree misdemeanor with a $500 fine or a maximum of 60 days in jail, with exemptions for law enforcement, corrections officer, game wardens, forest officials, military, guards, members of firearms clubs while at gatherings or traveling to and from them, people on firing ranges, people who manufacture firearms while they're on the job, and anyone "engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition," according to Florida Statute 790.25, which has led to some Second Amendment supporters organizing gatherings of armed fishermen in highly public places.

Apart from that, Florida is one of only five states that do not allow guns to be carried visibly, even for those holding licenses, according to U.S. Concealed Carry. (State law provides exceptions for legal hunters.)

You may not currently carry a concealed weapon in Florida without a state license.

How would gun laws change in Florida if a 'constitutional carry' bill passes?

A bill filed Jan. 30, "Concealed Carry of Weapons and Firearms Without a License" (HB 543), would allow concealed loaded guns anywhere without permits. The proposal makes no change to current laws limiting display of sidearms or long guns, so-called "open carry," or requirements to purchase a gun.

“Florida led the nation in allowing for concealed carry and that extends today as we remove the government permission slip... to exercise a constitutional right,” said Renner

Florida’s concealed weapons permitting, no longer required her under the proposed bill, would continue for residents who may want permits to allow them to carry their concealed weapons to other states under reciprocity agreements.

Under current law, residents applying for a concealed weapons permit must undergo firearms training and clear a background check to show they are not convicted felons or fall under a host of other restrictions.That also would no longer be required in Florida.

(Video) White House NOT HAPPY With New Gun Law Florida Just Signed...

The proposal is set to go before lawmakers during the session that begins in March.

A previous bill, 2021's "Carrying of Firearms Without Licenses," bill (HB 103) sponsored by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, attempted to make all open and concealed carry legal with no restrictions. The bill did not progress but that may have been because of the involvement of Sabatini, who has criticized DeSantis in the past and whose other bills have stalled.

Pro-2A legislation:Florida gun rights advocates hopping mad about seemingly stalled 'constitutional carry' bill

Momentum is building for permit-free gun carry in Florida:Does that mean open carry, too?

Why do people support permitless 'constitutional carry' laws?

Supporters believe that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not allow for any restrictions on gun rights, including the right to carry or bear arms. They believe that criminals would not abide by regulations in any event, and such restrictions only hinder a citizen's ability to defend themselves. Open and concealed carry, they argue, would result in less gun violence as criminals would avoid areas where peoplewere armed.

"Half the country now rightfully recognizes the fundamental right to carry a firearm for self-defense as enshrined in our Constitution — as opposed to a government privilege that citizens must ask permission to exercise,” said Jason Ouimet, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, in a recent statement.

'Armed Floridians are safe Floridians':Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol to push for 'constitutional carry' in Florida

Battle in the courts:Gun rights groups' wave of lawsuits could change America's relationship with firearms

Why do people oppose permitless 'constitutional carry' laws?

Opponentsbelieve that reduced restrictionson firearms will lead to even more gun violence in a country marked with regular mass shootings and high suicide rates, and fear that fewer regulations will result in more firearmsgetting to people who would not otherwise be legally allowed to ownthem. They generally believe that the U.S. Constitution clearly specifies "a well-regulated militia" in the Second Amendment and not completely unrestricted gun ownership, and some believe that the Founders did not anticipate the much deadlier weaponry available now.

“This is absurd political pandering from the Governor of a state that has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history and in a nation where we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world,” said Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for her party’s gubernatorial primary nomination to run against DeSantis in November. “It’s an insult to the memories and families of every victim of gun violence. We should be passing laws to prevent gun violence and working to fix our state’s affordable housing crisis, not creating chaos to score political points.”

Even some Second Amendment supporters are wary of vague or wide-open permitless carry legislation. Florida GOP Chair and State Sen. Joe Gruters said he might support permitless carry, but thought the image of assault weapons openly carried on the beach might "adversely affect Florida's tourism economy."

(Video) DeSantis signs ‘permitless carry' gun bill into law

What does the general public think of gun restriction laws?

Recent polls show support for tougher gun laws remains high: More than two-thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws, according to a 2021poll by USA TODAY/Ipsos. While 9 out of 10 Democrats support tougher restrictions, only a third of Republicans share that view.

"There may be a sense among gun rights supporters that now is the time to go on the offensive," said Eric Ruben, an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law and co-author of a Second Amendment lawsuit study."Now, there are more (judicial) opinions getting written ... that are conveying a broader view of gun rights."

Democrats call for limits on guns:As Democrats press for national gun control, GOP states move to expand firearm access

Which states allow permitless carry?

As of this writing, 25 states either allow legal firearm owners to carry a loaded, concealed firearm without a permit or have just passed legislation to allow it that will soon go into effect: Alabama (effective January 1, 2023), Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana (effective July 1, 2022), Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (residents only; concealed carry only), Ohio (effective June 13, 2022), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee (handguns only), Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The rest, including Florida, require some form of permit to possess a weapon in public places.

Texas permitless carry:Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill to allow Texans to carry handguns without a permit

Lousiana permitless carry:Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards vetoes concealed carry gun bill

Tennessee permitless carry:Tennessee Legislature passes bill to allow most adults to carry handguns without a permit

Contributors: James Call, John Kennedy, Capital Bureau; Janine Zeitlin, Fort Myers News-Press; Gary White, The Ledger; Tyler Vazquez, Florida Today; Matthew Brown, USA Today

C. A. Bridges is a Digital Producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with multiple newsrooms across Florida. Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the things you care about, and you can support them by subscribing to your local news organization. Read more articles by Chris here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges


What does 'constitutional carry' mean and how would it change gun laws in Florida? ›

Constitutional carry: Constitutional carry means that the state's law does not prohibit citizens who can legally possess a firearm from carrying handguns, (openly and/or in a concealed manner) thus no state permit is required.

What does constitutional carry mean in Florida? ›

Florida is now the 26th state to sign a “constitutional carry” bill for firearms. That means residents in Florida no longer need a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm out of the public's view, but it isn't a free for all.

Can I carry a gun without a concealed weapons permit in Florida? ›

Florida residents will be able to carry concealed guns without a permit under a bill signed into law on Monday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law, which goes into effect on July 1, means that anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida can carry a concealed gun in public without any training or background check.

Is Florida passing constitutional carry? ›

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would allow people to carry a concealed firearm without a state permit. The bill, HB 543, passed with 76 yeas and 32 nays Friday afternoon, with a version, SB 150, ready to go before the full Florida Senate.

What is the new gun law proposal in Florida? ›

In a 27-13 vote Thursday, the Senate passed a bill to eliminate concealed weapons permits, allowing gun owners to carry firearms in the state without the previously required license and training.

Can I conceal carry in Florida? ›

Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Florida CWL and for non-residents with a CCW permit from a state that Florida honors. The Florida CWL allows holders of the license to carry not only a handgun but also other weapons such as electronic weapons, tear gas guns, billie clubs and knives.

Can you carry a gun on your own property in Florida? ›

You are allowed to openly carry a weapon on your own property (see Florida Statute 790.25 (n)); however, if you have a guest on your property, they are not legally able to openly carry that weapon, even if you give them permission.

How many rounds can you carry in Florida? ›

Florida has no laws regulating large capacity ammunition magazines.

Can you carry a loaded gun with a concealed carry permit in Florida? ›

With a CWFL it is lawful to carry your firearm concealed on your person. Without a CWFL Florida law allows a person to carry a loaded handgun that is securely encased and not in his/her manual possession.

What is the Florida constitutional carry update 2023? ›

— Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 543 which strengthens Floridians' Second Amendment rights by allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit. HB 543 goes into effect on July 1, 2023, making Florida the 26th state to enact Constitutional Carry legislation.

Did Florida pass permitless carry? ›

Continuing to quickly pass high-profile legislation, the House on Friday approved a measure that would allow Floridians to carry firearms without concealed-weapons licenses, which Republicans compared to a government “permission slip.”

Will open carry be legal in Florida? ›

What does the permitless carry law do? Changes: The new law, signed by the governor on Monday, April 3, allows a person to carry a gun without a permit or training in Florida. Concealed only: The law allows only concealed guns, and does not allow a person to openly carry a gun in public.

Is there a limit to how many guns you can own in Florida? ›

Florida imposes no restrictions on sales or purchases of multiple firearms.

Can my wife use my gun in Florida? ›

Although the law may differ in other states, in Florida, it does not matter who the owner of the firearm is. If you have a right to use deadly force to defend yourself, you may do so with anyone's firearm.

Do you have to disclose a firearm in Florida? ›

Remember, there is no law in Florida requiring you to inform police officers that you have a firearm in your vehicle unless they specifically ask. However, they will ask in most cases.

Is a holstered gun considered concealed in Florida? ›

A concealed firearm is “any firearm … which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.” This lisence/permit allows you to carry the weapon on you in away that is hidden from the public (i.e under your shirt, in your jacket, ankle holsters, etc.)

What disqualifies you from concealed carry in Florida? ›

A record of drug or alcohol abuse. Two or more DUI convictions within the previous three years. Being committed to a mental institution or adjudged incompetent or mentally defective. Failing to provide proof of proficiency with a firearm.

What places can you not conceal carry in Florida? ›

Possession Restrictions
  • Any place of nuisance as defined in Section 823.05, F.S.
  • Any police, sheriff or highway patrol station.
  • Any detention facility, prison or jail.
  • Any courthouse.
  • Any courtroom*
  • Any polling place.
  • Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality or special district.

Can you conceal carry with a round in the chamber in Florida? ›

Even if you do not have a concealed weapons license, you can still have your firearm in your vehicle, and loaded with one in the chamber. However, the firearm must be securely encased.

What ammo is restricted in Florida? ›

Florida prohibits the manufacture, sale or delivery of any armor-piercing bullet or exploding bullet, or “dragon's breath” shotgun shell, bolo shell, or flechette shell.

Do you need fingerprints for concealed carry in Florida? ›

The law requires every applicant for a Florida concealed weapon or firearm license to submit a complete set of legible fingerprints. However, applicants have the option of submitting their fingerprints electronically.

What happens if someone sees your concealed weapon in Florida? ›

Florida concealed carry laws allow those with a concealed weapons and firearms license (or CWFL) to carry a loaded firearm concealed on their person. It is not a violation of any law for that firearm to be accidentally displayed.

What is the penalty for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in Florida? ›

Under Chapter 790 of the Florida Gun Statutes, carrying a concealed firearm without a concealed weapon license is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable upon conviction by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Can I conceal carry in Walmart in Florida? ›

As stated above, Walmart does not allow open carry of weapons in any of their stores, but they do allow the concealed carry of weapons in accordance with state laws. If a customer is observed openly carrying a firearm at a Walmart location, it is up to the discretion of the store management to decide what to do.

What gun law did Florida just pass? ›

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a GOP-sponsored bill into law Monday allowing people to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the state without a permit, after it was overwhelmingly approved in Florida's state legislature last week, making Florida the 26th state with a permitless concealed carry law.

Does Florida have a lifetime concealed carry permit? ›

Your Florida concealed weapon or firearm license is valid for a period of seven years. Approximately 95 days prior to the expiration date of your license, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) will send you a renewal form with complete instructions on how to renew your license.

Can you open carry in the woods in Florida? ›

If you do not have a concealed weapons permit for your licensed firearm, you are permitted to “open carry” that firearm while engaged in “fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition” (Chapter 790.25, section 3, F.S.).

Can I carry my gun in a backpack in Florida? ›

Concealed Firearm Permit

For example, a person may have the weapon in a parcel, backpack or purse. He or she may have it under a shirt or in a pocket. It is illegal for people in Florida to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

What allows you to open carry in Florida? ›

Open carry when on foot in a public area is generally illegal, but is permitted in certain circumstances, as defined by Florida statute 790.25(3). For example, open carry is permitted while hunting, fishing, camping, gun shows, or while target shooting at a gun range, and while going to and from such activities.

What guns can you not own in Florida? ›

What Guns Are Illegal in Florida? According to Florida Statute § 790.221, people are prohibited from owning or being in possession of short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, or machine guns that are in operable conditions. It is not illegal to possess these guns as long as they are antique firearms.

Can a felon own a gun in Florida after 10 years? ›

A general restoration of civil rights does not include the restoration of the right to own, possess or use a firearm. In order to restore firearm authority, an application is required and there is a waiting period of eight years from the date sentence expired or supervision terminated.

How strict are Florida gun laws? ›

Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms. No state permit is required to possess or purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun. It is unlawful for any convicted felon to have in his or her care, custody, control, or possession any firearm or to carry a concealed weapon unless his civil rights have been restored.

Can my wife have a gun if I am a felon in Florida? ›

No, a felon's spouse cannot own a gun in Florida. Under Florida Statute Section 790.23, a prosecutor can attempt to prove that you possessed a firearm, ammunition, or an electronic device or weapon through actual possession or constructive possession.

Can I ride with my gun in my car in Florida? ›

Florida generally allows a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm within the interior of a private vehicle, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.

Can you walk around with gun in Florida? ›

Although in Florida citizens are allowed to possess a gun, only authorized people can carry a concealed weapon. In other words, if you do not have a license or fall into one of the lawful uses established by the Florida Statute § 790.25(3), you cannot carry a gun out in the open or a concealed weapon.

Do you have to roll your window down for police in Florida? ›

Whenever a police officer requires you to pull over during a traffic stop, you should roll down both windows and stay patiently seated in your vehicle.

Can you fire a gun in your backyard in Florida? ›

Residents, homeowners, and lawful gun owners can not shoot firearms on the private property of homes in residential neighborhoods where the land is less than one acre. However, with gated communities or 'zero lot land,' things are different. You cannot shoot in your backyard unless: the land is 1.25 acres.

Can I defend my home with gun in Florida? ›

Another example of an exception is shooting police officers. If you are legally in your home or vehicle and an intruder attempts to forcefully and without permission enter your property, you have the right to shoot them without warning.

Where does constitutional carry stand in Florida? ›

Governor Ron DeSantis Supports Constitutional Carry

Constitutional Carry, also called permitless carry, means the state does not prohibit citizens who legally possess a firearm from carrying a gun, both openly and in a concealed manner.

Can you not open carry in Florida? ›

(1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s.

Where can you not carry a concealed weapon in Florida? ›

Possession Restrictions
  • Any place of nuisance as defined in Section 823.05, F.S.
  • Any police, sheriff or highway patrol station.
  • Any detention facility, prison or jail.
  • Any courthouse.
  • Any courtroom*
  • Any polling place.
  • Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality or special district.

Is Florida a no license carry state? ›

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's permitless carry bill into law Monday. Here's what it means for Floridians. A bill allowing people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit and without training has been signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Can I carry a loaded gun in my car in Florida? ›

Last updated January 5, 2023 . Florida generally allows a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm within the interior of a private vehicle, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.

Can you carry a gun in your glove box in the state of Florida? ›

In Florida you can have a concealed firearm in your vehicle without a permit as long as it is not readily accessible or if it is “securely encased.” Securely encased is defined by Florida Statute 790.001(17) to include a glove compartment, whether locked or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or ...

What weapons are illegal in Florida? ›

What Guns Are Illegal in Florida? According to Florida Statute § 790.221, people are prohibited from owning or being in possession of short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, or machine guns that are in operable conditions. It is not illegal to possess these guns as long as they are antique firearms.


1. Permitless carry in Florida. What does it mean?
(First Coast News)
2. Florida lawmakers propose 'constitutional carry' gun bill
(WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando)
3. Gun Laws and Concealed Carry Reciprocity in Florida
(Concealed Coalition)
4. Florida House approves permitless carry bill
(WPLG Local 10)
5. Florida OKs bill to carry concealed guns without a permit
(CBS Miami)
6. Florida committee hears public comment over constitutional carry gun bill
(WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando)


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