Protecting, Leading & Uniting Since 1893
Tweet with Us See Our Videos on Youtube Friend Us On Facebook

Connect With Us

HB209/SB296 FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HB 209/SB296
AND FLORIDA’S LAWS RELATED TO DECLARATIONS OF EMERGENCY AND FIREARMS

What did the language in HB 209/SB 296 affect? 

HB 209/SB296  created an exception to the conceal carry law and allowed a person to carry a firearm concealed without a permit while evacuating pursuant to a mandatory evacuation order during  a state of emergency declared by the Governor under Chapter 252 or an emergency declared by a local official under Chapter 870 *.

The stated necessity for the legislation was that Florida law prohibited people from taking their firearms with them in the case of an emergency declaration and mandatory evacuation order, thus forcing Floridians to leave their guns behind. In addition, testimony by the NRA and Florida Carry relayed examples of seizure of firearms in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

Neither the sponsors of the bills, the NRA nor Florida Carry were able to provide one instance of guns being seized in Florida during any declared state of emergency or evacuation.

*SB 296 was amended in committee to take out the reference to Chapter 870, but HB 209 maintained that language. The sponsor of SB 296 had an amendment filed that would have re-added the Chapter 870 reference.

Did HB 209/SB 296 affect the rights of people holding conceal carry permits

NO- HB did not change any provisions related to the current concealed carry weapons permit law, but added the ability for persons without concealed weapons permits to carry concealed during mandatory evacuation orders under declared emergencies.

What provisions are already in place for people to transport their firearms routinely or during an emergency?

1) 790.01 & 790.06 authorize Conceal Carry

2) 790.25(3) - “Lawful use” authorizes the conceal carry and open carry of firearms while fishing, hunting or camping, or while going to or returning from fishing, hunting or camping.

3) 790.25(5) - Without a License in a Personal or Public Conveyance: It is lawful and is not a violation of the concealed weapon permit provisions for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. Nothing herein contained prohibits the carrying of a legal firearm other than a handgun anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize the carrying of a concealed firearm or other weapon on the person. This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense as provided in s. 776.012.

Does Florida law prohibit a person from taking their firearm with them after a State of Emergency is declared by the Governor under Chapter 252 or a local official under Chapter 870? 

NO, Florida law does not and, in fact, specifically does not authorize the seizure, confiscation or taking of a firearm from a person that is lawfully possessing the firearm, and not committing a crime. Lawfully possessing can be any of the manners defined by law in 790.01, 790.053 or 790.25 which includes CCWP or in a personal or public conveyance securely encased.

What does Florida law say about possession or transport of a firearm during a declaration of emergency?

Chapter 252, F.S., is Florida’s emergency management law and provides for powers given to the Governor and local jurisdictions during disasters.

Under section 252.36, F.S.,  the Governor can declare a state of emergency and in Florida that is mostly related to hurricanes, floods, fires and other natural disasters, but may also include things like the BP oil spill. After the Governor declares the state of emergency, local interjurisdictional emergency management plans also go into effect. Both the Governor and Local official have authority to issue mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders under Chapter 252.

Under Chapter 252, F.S., the Governor MAY suspend the sale, dispensing or transportation of firearms, but it is not automatic.  However, it does not authorize the seizure of any weapons or firearms that are lawfully possessed if the person is not committing a criminal act.

In contrast Chapter 870, F.S., declaration of emergencies, pertain to public affrays, riots, routs and civil unrest. There are automatic provisions related to firearms but only apply to intentional possession in a public place while not lawfully carrying.

Significantly, under either statute, nothing authorizes the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.

This means that if you are in lawful possession of your firearm (have a concealed carry weapons permit or are transporting in a car securely encased) and not committing a crime, the law does not authorize the confiscation or seizure of your firearm regardless of the emergency declaration provisions.

Below are the relevant statutes:

CHAPTER 252

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

252.36 Emergency management powers of the Governor.—

(5) In addition to any other powers conferred upon the Governor by law, she or he may:

(h) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31-252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.

CHAPTER 870

AFFRAYS; RIOTS; ROUTS; UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLIES

870.044 Automatic emergency measures.—Whenever the public official declares that a state of emergency exists, pursuant to s. 870.043, the following acts shall be prohibited during the period of said emergency throughout the jurisdiction:

(1) The sale of, or offer to sell, with or without consideration, any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.

(2) The intentional display, after the emergency is declared, by or in any store or shop of any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.

(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty.

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in a criminal act.

Why would a local official declare an emergency under Chapter 870 and does the statute provide for mandatory evacuation orders?

A declaration of an emergency under Chapter 870 is for a very specific set of dangerous circumstances related to riots and civil unrest. The law provides, in part “Whenever the sheriff or designated city official determines that there has been an act of violence or a flagrant and substantial defiance of, or resistance to, a lawful exercise of public authority and that, on account thereof, there is reason to believe that there exists a clear and present danger of a riot or other general public disorder… he or she may declare that a state of emergency exists within that jurisdiction or any part or parts thereof.  See reference

Chapter 870 does not even authorize mandatory evacuation orders as the legislation provided but instead authorizes curfews and pedestrian and vehicle control.  See reference

The problem with all the Alerts being sent out by the NRA is that they are creating confusion related to the specific laws and bundling them all together, implying that a local official can declare an evacuation under Chapter 870 as part of an emergency declared by the Governor in Chapter 252. Readers really cannot delineate which law does what and which law applies and the truth is that the two laws are completely different.

Is the Florida law the same as the NC cited in the NRA Alert that was struck down by a federal court?

NO.  Florida law is completely distinguishable from the NC law identified in the NRA Alert and provides an exception from any firearm restrictions for those that are in lawful possession of the firearm.

North Carolina Law:

North Carolina General Statute § 14–288.7, makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor “for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area” in which a state of emergency has been declared.

Florida Law:

252.36 Emergency Management Powers of the Governor

(5) (h)- the Governor MAY suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31-252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.

870.044 Automatic emergency measures.—Whenever the public official declares that a state of emergency exists, pursuant to s. 870.043, the following acts shall be prohibited during the period of said emergency throughout the jurisdiction:

(1) The sale of, or offer to sell, with or without consideration, any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.

(2) The intentional display, after the emergency is declared, by or in any store or shop of any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.

(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty.

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in a criminal act.

What did the amendment supported by the FSA do?

The FSA never opposed the bill in total but expressed concerns about the manner in which it was drafted as overbroad and vague and as a result nearly impossible to enforce. It's important to remember that unlike those who have attacked our reputation, the Florida Sheriffs Association's focus related to legislation is to assure laws are crafted in a way that our officers on the frontline can keep our citizens safe  and that citizens can understand the law so that they can properly comply .  

The amendment would have merely defined what “in the act of complying with a mandatory evacuation order” meant, which provided reasonable time, place and manner restrictions as to how long the law would be applicable.  The amendment allowed for a 24 hour time period from the time of the evacuation order for the conceal carry without a conceal carry permit right and  delineated that  once a person left the evacuation zone and could reasonably and safely comply with the regular transport requirements of Florida law they were required to do so. This kept evacuees from one area of the State from continuing to carry concealed without a license when they were safely away from the evacuation zone. In addition, the amendment specifically stated it would not preempt any other laws in Chapter 252 or 870 which kept the protections already in place not to be preempted.

In other words, if a person without a permit did not have time or could not comply with current law related to transporting a firearm (securely encased and not readily accessible) and needed to carry concealed- they would be authorized for a limited period of time but when they got to safety they could not just continue to carry concealed the entire time they were evacuated throughout the state if they did not have a permit.

Actual Amendment:

 1. As used in this paragraph, the term “in the act of evacuating” means any of the following actions by a person within the 24 hours after the issuance of a mandatory evacuation order:

a. Leaving his or her residence and traveling to and reaching the geographical limits of the area under mandatory evacuation where the person reasonably and safely has the ability to properly store the transported weapon or firearm pursuant to this chapter.

b. Leaving his or her residence and traveling to and reaching a place within the geographical limits of the mandatory evacuation area where the person reasonably and safely has the ability to properly store the transported weapon or firearm pursuant to this chapter.

2. This paragraph does not preempt any other provision of law related to possession or transport of a weapon or firearm in chapter 252, this chapter, or chapter 870, or possession of a firearm in a public shelter.

Was there time for the bill to pass after the above amendment was adopted?

YES. There was ample time for a bill to pass even after the adoption of the above clarifying amendment.    

If you have any other further questions about these proposed bills and the Florida Sheriffs Association's position, please email us. We look forward to clarifying for you.

© 2014 The Florida Sheriffs Association. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Security and Refund Policy
Florida Sheriffs Association Headquarters
2617 Mahan Drive • Tallahassee, FL 32308 1-800-877-2168