Here is another installment from Shannon Posada, esq
LESSON #3: Depending on your state, you should get a concealed weapons license or permit, even if you do not carry a gun or weapon on your person.
Most states require a permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public. Some people don’t understand what it means to have a concealed weapons permit. I am not talking about a permit or license to buy a gun or the registration of a gun. A concealed weapons permit is not associated with any certain gun or weapon that you buy. It simply means that if you are in possession of any gun or deadly weapon (knife, pepper spray, nunchucks etc) when you go somewhere, then you need a permit to carry it concealed on your person if it is hidden (underneath your shirt, in your purse, leg strap, etc.). If you get caught, you can be arrested and face criminal charges.
There’s only a handful of states that allow the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit. As with many laws, there are exceptions. But by obtaining the proper permit and/or license, you’re good for about 99% of situations that could get you in trouble. All state laws are different and you need to see what applies to you. Unless your state allows 100% permit-less conceal carry, there are gray areas in the law that will not cover you in every situation. The laws are complicated and confusing (are you sensing the common theme in my blogs yet?!).
For example, in Florida, there are some exceptions, such as you can have a firearm in your glove box or anywhere in the car if it is securely encased (snapped holster or zippered case). You can also conceal carry on your own property, including your front yard. But what if you live in an apartment or condo complex? Guess what: that walk from your door to car in the parking lot is NOT covered. Therefore, you may be in violation of the law. Getting a permit/license will help you avoid any legal “holes” that you might step into.
True story: (again, in FL) A guy got kicked out of his girlfriend’s house. He packed up his few personal belongings (including his legal handgun) into a duffle bag. As he waited outside on the porch for his friend to pick him up, the cops were called. The guy consented to a search of his duffle bag (why?? That’s another lecture…) and the police found the gun. He was arrested for carrying a concealed firearm. After getting arrested, posting bail, hiring an attorney and YEARS of fighting the case in court, they finally worked it out. Moral: A CCW license would have prevented all of it in the first place.
Benefits of a concealed weapons permit/license:
- It is relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain (especially compared to getting arrested, going to jail, posting bond, legal fees, etc.)
- It protects you in most situations (vehicle, motorcycles, bicycles, buses, boats, transporting from one place to another, your yard, etc.)
- The weapon does not need to be securely encased with a holster, zipped bag, etc, (check your state laws on this)
- You can carry locked and loaded, ready to go (again, check your state laws)
- It gives you credibility if you are ever in a self-defense situation (law enforcement knows you are not a convicted felon and you are responsible citizen)
- Benefit of the doubt (in case an officer is unaware of the state laws regarding exceptions, you should be covered anyway)
Mistakes happen. Police officers, while hard working and good-intended, are often not well-versed on the law (who is??). There are many laws and they change often. Some of it comes from case law from court and, unless you constantly keep up (who does that??) there will be gaps – don’t fall into the crack!
For example, Florida has an exception that allows you to have a loaded handgun in the glovebox (most people don’t know this). As a former prosecutor and defense attorney, I saw several people get arrested for this. While the cases got dropped (of course), they had to go to jail, bond out and get an attorney to fight the case. Also, I’ve had discussions with law enforcement over whether the “securely encased” exception in FL means loaded or unloaded (I say loaded, BTW). There is a Florida Supreme Court case that says any gray area of the law should be interpreted in favor of the gun owner. But you can’t fight your case on the street; you have to go to court. Attorneys have the luxury of time, resources and research to figure stuff out; police don’t have that.
Bottom line: A conceal carry license would have prevented all of it. So why go to jail if you don’t have to in the first place?
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. All states have different laws. If you are curious about your state’s laws, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area.
I am a licensed Florida attorney with over 15 years of experience in criminal law, as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Self-defense and conceal carry laws are very complicated and confusing. I have seen good people go down for being uneducated, assuming that what they are doing is right. One mistake can costs you thousands in legal fees, bail money and expenses, and possibly prison. Learn how to use your firearm and when to use it. Be smart, educate yourself, and stay humble. Pride and ignorance are very expensive!