There has been a debate for many years here in Florida about whether or not state statute allows openly carrying a firearm while fishing, target shooting, hunting or camping. Today we’re going to look into just what the facts are behind this debate.
FLORIDA LAW WHILE HUNTING
Florida Statute 790.25 (3)(h) permits the use and possession of a firearm while engaged in fishing, camping, target shooting, or hunting or going to and from lawful hunting, fishing, target shooting or camping expeditions. There are still many instances where the use or the possession of a firearm is still prohibited under Florida state statute and ignorance of the law is not an affirmative defense if you are charged with a violation of state law.
Florida generally does not allow open carry with the small exception of when a person is hunting, fishing, target shooting or camping. Florida law also states that a person can legally open carry a firearm while in transit to and from the allowable activities (hunting, fishing, target shooting or camping).
FLORIDA LAW WHILE TRAVELING (AFTER HUNTING/FISHING/SPORT SHOOTING)
Some have attempted to bend this rule (law) and stop at a store on the way to their destination to pick up some items and have found themselves in some legal trouble. It behooves you to read the state statute if you decide to carry a firearm openly and I highly recommend you not open carry until you are at your designation for the protected activities.
Florida case law does not specify the meaning of the ‘going to and from’ provision and you do not want to be a test case for some new assistant state attorney. Take the high road and just carry the firearm concealed (with a valid permit to carry concealed) or inside a case until you get to your final designation. Some new police officers may not even know of the loophole so I would recommend you keep a copy of the state statue inside your tackle box, boat or at the least your wallet just in case a police officer questions you.
In closing I cannot stress enough it is your responsibility to read the state statute and be aware of the law so that you will not find yourself in handcuffs. I always take the high road and stay way inside of the lines due to the fact I do not want to be a test case for a law enforcement agency or the state attorney’s office. When I travel to the gun range or fish I never open carry. Stay safe, stay out of handcuffs and always prepare your battlefield for success.
Jay Lacson- ConcealedCarry.com Training Instructor for Polk County, Florida