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Guns and School Zones: What You Need to Know | Florida

GUNS ARE GENERALLY PROHIBITED ON SCHOOL PROPERTY

The possession of a firearm is generally illegal on school property, with a few exceptions. Florida statute § 790.06 contains several subsections that explicitly prohibit the carrying and possession of firearms on school property. Firearms are not allowed at any school-sponsored events or collegiate athletic events that are not related to firearms.

A person may not possess a firearm or other weapon on the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop. This includes the property of any elementary or secondary school facility, administration building, or career center. A person may carry under one of the few exceptions laid out in Florida statute § 790.115(2)(a). A firearm may be carried in a case to a firearms program, class, or function that has been approved in advance by the principal or chief administrative officer of the school as a program or class to which firearms may be carried. This also applies to firearms carried in a case to a career center that has a firearms training range.

Firearms and School Parking Lots

Florida law allows for concealed firearms to be carried in a vehicle without a license, provided a person is at least 18 years old, and the firearm is securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. This law also applies to the carrying of a firearm in a person’s vehicle on the grounds of a school or at a school activity. However, school districts are free to adopt written and published policies that negate this law for the purposes of student and campus parking lots.

This means that while firearms in vehicles on school parking lots are legal under Florida law, an individual school district may have a policy that makes it illegal to have a firearm in a vehicle in the parking lot of the school. Even if the school does not have a policy prohibiting firearms in the parking lot, firearms still may not be taken out of the vehicle.

FEDERAL LAW AND GUN-FREE SCHOOL ZONES

The Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. However, there are several exceptions to this prohibition. The three most common exceptions are:

  1. You have an unloaded firearm that is locked in a container or secured on a rack in your vehicle;
  2. You possess a concealed carry license from the state in which the school is located. So, under federal law, a Florida Concealed Weapon/Firearm License (CWFL) holder would be allowed to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school located in Florida. But if that CWFL holder travels to Texas, he or she would not be allowed within a thousand feet of a Texas school; or
  3. You are on private property. For example, your house is located within 1,000 feet of a school.

So, if you are not a CWFL holder, you cannot have a loaded firearm in your car on or within 1,000 feet of a school, even though Florida law allows you to have a loaded, securely encased firearm in your car without a CWFL.

RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS and Schools

Further, it is important to remember the rules that apply to schools also apply to religious institutions which have schools on their property, even when the school is not in session. Florida Statute § 790.115 defines schools to include preschools, which also includes daycare facilities. Florida Statute § 402.302(2) states, “[A] child care facility includes any child care center or child care arrangement which provides child care for more than five children unrelated to the operator, and which receives a payment, fee, or grant for any of the children receiving care.”

Therefore, if your religious institution has a school, daycare or child care facility with more than five children, and receives payment or a grant for the children attending, you cannot carry a firearm to the religious services. This law still applies even if the school is not in the same building as the services you are attending, or if the school is closed on the day you are attending services.

COLLEGE CAMPUSES

Finally, for those heading to college, remember that Florida does not allow for the concealed or open carry of firearms on university or college campuses. If an individual is a registered student, employee, or faculty member of the college or university, they may carry a stun gun or non-lethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes, if it does not fire a dart or a projectile.

If you have any questions about carrying a firearm on school property, please give U.S. LawShield a call, and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.

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