Starting on July 1, 2023, Florida gun owners will no longer need a license to carry a concealed firearm. The change results from House Bill 543, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on April 3 of this year.

While many Second Amendment supporters have praised HB 543 for removing the requirement of a concealed carry permit, firearm owners should be aware of the implications of this new law. As a gun owner in Florida, it is essential to fully understand your rights and responsibilities under HB 543 to avoid criminal penalties, including the loss of your firearm rights and hefty fines.

Concealed Carry Process Before HB 543

Currently, you must obtain a license from The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before you can carry a concealed firearm in Florida. This does not apply if you are on personal property or in your place of business.

To obtain a concealed carry permit, you must:

  • Meet the requirements outlined in Stat. § 790.06
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit proof of competency with a firearm, i.e., a certificate of completion from a firearms training course
  • Affirm your desire for legal means (the firearm is intended only for lawful self-defense)

Anyone carrying a concealed firearm without a proper license before July 1, 2023 can be charged with a third-degree felony. This can involve up to five years in prison and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.

Concealed Carrying After HB 543

House Bill 543 will make concealed carry licenses optional. If you carry a concealed weapon under this new law, you only need a valid ID, with a $25 fine for not doing so.

This bill will likely lead to more Floridians possessing firearms in public. Under HB 543, you will also no longer need to state your desire for legal means to conceal carry. This means your gun does not have to be for self-defense if you wish to carry it publicly.

Even with these lax adjustments, you must still meet the requirements of Section 790.06 to carry a concealed weapon starting July 1. For example, the age restrictions will continue to apply whether or not you have a license. Additionally, if an officer stops you while you conceal carry, you are not required to present a permit, but you do need to present a valid form of identification and should always announce you have a concealed weapon.

Laws that Will Remain Under House Bill 543

While HB 543 extends our right to carry a gun publicly, it is not a free-for-all. Some laws and restrictions will continue to apply after this bill goes into effect.

Learn which current concealed carry laws will not change under House Bill 543 so you can responsibly exercise your rights.

Federal Background Checks

Many critics of HB 543 believe gun owners will no longer need to pass background checks to conceal carry. This may seem like a valid concern, but the sentiment is misleading.

It’s true you will no longer be required to submit fingerprints or complete a background check to conceal carry in Florida. However, House Bill 543 does not eliminate federal background checks when initially purchasing a firearm. The bill simply allows legal gun owners to conceal carry their firearm without completing the additional steps of a license.

Even when HB 543 is in effect, licensed gun sellers (excluding private sellers) must run background checks on all prospective buyers. This is done according to federal law, which HB 543 does not affect.

Prohibited Locations

Under House Bill 543, the list of banned areas will not change. You cannot carry a firearm in any prohibited locations, including:

  • Elementary and secondary school property
  • College or university facilities
  • Detention centers, prisons, or jails
  • Polling locations
  • Places of nuisance, as defined in Stat. § 823.05
  • Any place prohibited by federal law

If a location prohibits firearms, you can expect to face criminal charges for carrying a concealed weapon there—regardless of HB 543.

Ineligible Persons

If you are ineligible to carry a firearm or lose your gun rights, you can still face criminal penalties under HB 543.

Individuals who cannot legally possess a firearm in Florida include:

  • Convicted felons
  • Drug addicts
  • People convicted of domestic violence
  • Subjects of an anti-harassment order
  • Dishonorably discharged military veterans

Depending on your exact charge, illegally carrying a weapon in Florida can have disastrous effects on your future. You may face years in prison, significant fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Open Carry Restrictions

Open carry of a firearm is illegal in Florida and will remain as such under HB 543. According to Fla. Stat. § 790.053, it is illegal to openly carry a gun. Violating this law can result in a second-degree misdemeanor.

House Bill 543 FAQs

How does House Bill 543 affect the reciprocity of concealed carry permits from other states?

Reciprocity laws in Florida allow gun owners from certain states to conceal carry in Florida as long as they have their state’s permit. Other states also have reciprocity laws with Florida, meaning they will honor a Florida concealed carry permit.

With House Bill 543, these reciprocity laws may change. Nonresidents will be authorized to conceal carry in Florida without a license, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. They can also continue carrying concealed weapons with their state’s permit.

As a resident who wishes to carry in a state that recognizes Florida in its reciprocity laws, you might still need to obtain a concealed carry license. Knowing another state’s laws before you conceal carry there is your responsibility.

Does HB 543 mean concealed carry crimes can be expunged?

As July 1 approaches, you may be curious how HB 543 will impact those previously charged with gun license-related crimes. According to Florida law, you cannot seal a record if you have a felony related to carrying a concealed weapon.

In Florida, most felonies cannot be expunged even if the laws change. However, there may be instances where you are eligible for expungement or sealing due to the circumstances of your case. It is essential to seek advice from an experienced Florida expungement attorney who can evaluate your individual case and fully advocate for your needs.

Can I still get a concealed carry license in Florida if I want one?

Yes, you are still allowed to obtain a concealed carry license in Florida if you wish to do so. Many residents find it beneficial to have a permit, and you can continue to reap these benefits under HB 543.

Having a concealed carry license in Florida allows you to:

  • Bypass the 3-day waiting period between purchasing a gun and possessing it
  • Conceal carry in states that recognize Florida gun licenses
  • Demonstrate your awareness and responsibility toward firearm safety

Concealed carry licenses obtained before July 1, 2023 will still be valid for seven years, and you can renew your permit even under the new laws.

A Sarasota Gun Crimes Attorney Can Defend Your Rights

If you face gun crime allegations or Second Amendment violations, seek aggressive legal representation immediately. Sarasota criminal defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel can help defend you against a criminal firearms offense and fully understand how Florida HB 543 and other gun laws affect your individual case.

Contact experienced Florida criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel today at (941) 363-7900.

View All Blogs