Under Florida gun laws, an individual 18 or older may keep a concealed firearm inside a private vehicle in a parking lot without a Florida concealed weapon license if the weapon is not readily accessible for immediate use. This right is codified in Florida Statutes Section 790.251. The purpose of this law is to preserve the right to keep and bear arms in motor vehicles. The term “concealed firearm” means a firearm carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.
What Constitutes Locking Securely
When the Florida statutes refer to a concealed weapon as one that is not readily accessible for immediate use, concealment does not necessarily mean that the gun must be locked in a gun case or in the glove compartment of the vehicle. However, a gun could be locked in both of these locations. Since the term “motor vehicle” also refers to a motorcycle or motor scooter, locked securely does not have to mean locked inside. Locking securely can also mean locked to the motor vehicle.
Both the gun and ammunition can be locked securely within or to the motor vehicle. The statute does not specify that the ammunition must be kept separate from the gun, meaning that the gun can be loaded. The gun owner does not have to state a purpose, such as self-defense, for keeping the gun in, or locked to, the vehicle.
No Prohibitions for Workplaces
In the state of Florida, an individual does not waive or curtail their right to own and securely keep firearms simply because they are a customer, employee or an invitee of an employer or business within the state. The firearm must be lawfully possessed or locked inside of, or to, a private motor vehicle in a parking lot, and the customer, employee or invitee must be lawfully in such an area.
Exceptions to Rights to Keep a Firearm in a Vehicle
Workplaces that are allowed to abrogate the right of an employee, customer or invitee to keep a firearm in a private vehicle in a parking lot include school property, a correctional institution, a property where a nuclear-powered electricity generation facility is located, and property owned or leased by an employer where substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace or homeland security are conducted.
Other workplaces allowed to abrogate this right include: property owned or leased by an employer where the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage or transportation of explosive materials, or property owned or leased by an employer who has obtained a permit to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing or dealing in explosive materials on the property. In addition, workplaces may abrogate the right in a motor vehicle owned or leased by the employer or any other property owned or leased by the employer where possession of a firearm by a customer, employee or invitee is prohibited pursuant to a federal law, contract with a federal government entity or law of the state of Florida.
Preserving Privacy Rights
A public or private employer may not violate the privacy rights of a customer, employee or invitee by verbal or written questions about the presence of a firearm inside of, or locked to, a private motor vehicle in a parking lot or an actual search of the vehicle to determine whether there is a firearm in the vehicle.
A public or private employer may not take action against a customer, employee or invitee based on verbal or written statements of any party concerning possession of a firearm stored inside a private vehicle in a parking lot. If there is a search of a private vehicle in a parking lot, only on-duty police officers can conduct the search. The search must be based upon due process and comply with constitutional protections.
Firearms Rights and Conditions of Employment
A public or private employer is not allowed to condition employment based on the fact that an employee or prospective employee holds or does not hold a concealed carry license. An employer also may not condition employment on any agreement by an employee or prospective employee that prohibits an employee from keeping a legal firearm inside, or locked to, a private vehicle in a parking lot when the firearm is kept for lawful purposes.
Employees and Customers and Firearms
A public or private employer is not allowed to prohibit or attempt to prevent a customer, employee or invitee from entering the parking lot of the employer’s palace of business because the person’s private vehicle contains a legal firearm carried for lawful purposes that is out of sight within the private vehicle. A public or private employer may not terminate the employment of an employee or expel a customer or invitee for exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms or exercising the right of self defense. The employee, customer or invitee must not exhibit the firearm on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms
Certain individuals may not legally possess a firearm even if the firearm is locked securely within or to a vehicle. Such individuals are those with a felony conviction, unless their civil and firearm rights have been restored by the convicting authority; a person who is an unlawful user or is addicted to a controlled substance; a fugitive from justice; a person adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to treatment; an undocumented immigrant; a person who has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces; a person who has renounced U.S. citizenship; a person with an active protection order against them, such as a restraining order that prohibits them from possessing a firearm; a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; and a person under indictment or information for a felony.
If a person who is not in lawful possession of a firearm has a firearm locked in, or to, their vehicle, a law enforcement officer may arrest that person and confiscate their gun.
What Is Concealed Carrying of Firearms?
Under Florida state law, concealed carry refers to having a license to carry a gun on or about a person. The eligibility requirements for a Florida concealed firearm license include being 21 years of age or older, demonstrating competency with a firearm, currently residing in the U.S. and being a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident alien. An individual does not need a license to carry a gun on or about their person to lawfully have a concealed firearm in a private vehicle.
Penalties for Unlicensed Possession
The penalties for unlicensed carrying of concealed firearms apply to individuals who carry a concealed firearm on or about their person, not in, or locked to, their vehicle. A person who is not licensed under Florida Statutes Section 790.06 and carries a concealed firearm commits a third-degree felony. The typical penalty for a third-degree felony is up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
- 2021 Florida Statutes: Section 790.01, Unlicensed Carrying of Concealed Weapons or Concealed Firearms
- 2021 Florida Statutes: 790.251, Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles for Self-defense and Other Lawful Purposes
- 2021 Florida Statutes: 790.001, Definitions
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Eligibility Requirements for a Florida Concealed Weapon License
- 2021 Florida Statutes: 790.06, License to Carry Concealed Weapon or Firearm
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement: Requirements to Purchase a Firearm
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.