When Can Gun Owners Have A Concealed Weapon Without A Permit?
Published on September 26, 2013 | By Eric Barker - Criminal Defense Attorney
The George Zimmerman case has generated a lot of discussion about many things: race, self-defense, stand your ground laws, and the right to carry guns about your person. While the number of people obtaining concealed weapons permits are on the rise, many gun owners do not have permission to carry their firearm concealed. Generally speaking, a person cannot carry a concealed weapon without a permit. There are some exceptions to this, the two more common ones being having a weapon in your car or your home.
There always seems to be some confusion as to when and how a person may lawfully carry a firearm or have one in their vehicle without having a concealed weapons permit. Florida Statute 790.01 prohibits carrying concealed weapons and 790.053 prohibit the open carrying of weapons. Both statutes exempt self-defense chemical spray and non-lethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun, or other non-lethal electric weapon used for self-defense. So how do people without permits get their guns from point A, (say the store where they bought the gun) to point B (home, for instance)? If the person has a concealed weapons permit (790.06), they may carry the gun according to the regulations of this permit. But trickier situation is when the person does not have a concealed weapons permit. This is governed by Florida Statute 790.025, which allows for an adult to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for lawful purposes inside their private vehicle as long as the firearm or weapon is “securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.”
“Securely encased” and “readily accessible for immediate use” is up to interpretation and has been the focus of much litigation over the years. Some courts are willing to find that a gun is securely encased and/or is not readily accessible while a different court may find the opposite in a similar set of facts and circumstances. For instance, if the firearm is loaded and inside a center console, some courts have held that to not be readily accessible for immediate use, while others have held that the gun is readily accessible. If the firearm is unloaded, some courts have still found that the gun was readily accessible for immediate use, depending on where the ammunition was in proximity to the driver and gun. However, even if the gun is securely encased, the driver without a concealed weapons permit may not carry the concealed firearm on his person; it has to be within the vehicle. Motorcycle riders are not exempt from this and may not carry a securely encased gun in a pouch that is around his or her waist and must store the weapon someplace on the motorcycle. The safest way to carry your firearm in your vehicle is to have it in a zippered, snapped, or strapped pouch or holster. It can also be carried in a locked box or other storage device. The more steps the owner has to go through to get to and use the gun, the more likely it is that the court will find that it is not readily accessible for immediate use.
Another common place where gun owners do not need a concealed weapons permit to carry concealed firearms is their home. Although this sounds fairly straightforward, there have been some “gray areas” where the courts have had to step in and make a ruling. What is considered part of your house and what types of guns can you have. You may have a concealed weapon in your yard and driveway, but not in the parking lot if you live in an apartment. A motel room is considered your home, so you are safe there, but if the logic from the apartment case is followed, you cannot have a concealed weapon in the parking lot. Since you cannot openly carry a firearm either, I am not sure how the courts think people will transport their firearms into their apartments and hotel rooms. Lastly, being in your home does not authorize you to carry a gun, such as a short-barreled or sawed off shotgun that is otherwise illegal to possess.