Dear Representative Mealor:
I am writing with a concern about what appears to be a conflict in the laws in Florida governing the carrying of concealed firearms.
As you know, Florida Statute 790.06 authorized the issuance of concealed carry permits to Florida residents who desire the means to defend themselves and their families from violent criminals.
The statute places some specific restrictions on licensees in section 12, prohibiting carry in certain places:
(12) No license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize any person to carry a concealed weapon or firearm into any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05; any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station; any detention facility, prison, or jail; any courthouse; any courtroom, except that nothing in this section would preclude a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed weapon in his or her courtroom; any polling place; any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district; any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof; any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms; any school administration building; any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose; any elementary or secondary school facility; any career center; any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile; inside the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; or any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law. Any person who willfully violates any provision of this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Carrying a firearm into one of those places is a second degree misdemeanor.
However, there is an apparently little known section of the Statues that makes carrying a firearm into any hospital that provides mental health evaluations - or even onto the grounds - a felony, and provides no exception for those licensed to carry a firearm under 790.06:
Florida Statute § 394.458:
“(1) (a) Except as authorized by law or as specifically authorized by the person in charge of each hospital providing mental health services under this part, it is unlawful to introduce into or upon the grounds of such hospital, or to take or attempt to take or send therefrom, any of the following articles, which are hereby declared to be contraband for the purposes of this section:
Any intoxicating beverage or beverage . . . .
Any controlled substance as defined in chapter 893; or
Any firearms or deadly weapon”.
The problem here is that EVERY hospital with an emergency room is required to provide mental health evaluations at some level. And violation of 394.458 is a FELONY, even for those licensed to carry a firearm under 790.06
It is very easy to envision a situation where a person lawfully carrying a firearm with a concealed firearm license could be charged with a felony without ever knowing they were doing anything wrong. Section 394.458 is not a required topic for the CWFL class, and I doubt that the vast majority of licensees are aware of this potentially life-altering pitfall.
I feel that Section 394.458 should be amended as rapidly as possible to exempt those individuals who are licensed to carry a concealed firearm under 790.06. I would ask that you consider working with your colleagues in the legislature to resolve this conflict at the earliest possible convenience.
Very Truly Yours,