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Business owners prepare for new gun law

Mark Parker



Obtaining a concealed weapons permit will become optional when a new law takes effect July 1. Photo: Unsplash.

Beginning this Saturday, July 1, Florida residents can legally carry concealed weapons in public without a state-issued permit, or training.

However, restrictions remain, and private property owners will ultimately decide if they want firearms on the premises. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway sought to dispel myths surrounding the new law in a St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce virtual meeting Monday afternoon.

The changes stem from House Bill 543, which the governor referred to as “constitutional carry.” Florida joins 25 other states with similar legislation.

“A lot of people are assuming come July 1 that everyone can have open carry,” Holloway said. “This does not allow for open carry. The other thing is not everyone can carry a weapon.”

What to know

Local law enforcement officials created a fact sheet providing pertinent information on the new permitless carry law. It states that people can still legally openly carry a firearm if they “are engaged in or traveling to or from” fishing, camping, hunting or target practice.

People must meet existing requirements for a concealed carry permit to take advantage of the new law. That includes U.S. citizenship, being over the age of 21, not having a disqualifying felony conviction, no misdemeanor domestic abuse charges and no convictions for violence or drug crimes.

Holloway noted that people must still undergo a background check for gun purchases. However, that applies to licensed-dealer transactions, and those buying firearms from private sellers in Florida can skip the vetting process and mandatory three-day waiting period.

Holloway stressed that the law does not authorize bringing concealed weapons anywhere prohibited by a property owner. He implored those who do not want guns in their establishment to place a sign or sticker at the entrance to avoid becoming “our lowest priority calls that we have here.”

“If you don’t have the sign up in your business, we are still going to respond … but it’s not going to be what’s called one of our priority calls,” Holloway explained. “Because now that people can carry weapons, we will still respond to make sure they’re carried lawfully, but it’s not going to be a high-priority call.”

He added that owners should notify dispatchers of their signage when they call for assistance. They must also decide if they want the person trespassed from the property.

Holloway said private property restrictions extend to people with concealed carry permits, including off-duty officers. He also expects court challenges and encourages owners to consult with attorneys.

Chamber officials are working to create “No Firearms Allowed” window decals for members. Here is a list of places where guns are not allowed, according to the law:

  • Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building.
  • Any police, sheriff or highway patrol station.
  • Any courthouse, courtroom or polling place.
  • Any meeting of a county, public school district, municipality or special district’s governing body.
  • Any meeting of the Legislature or its committees.
  • Any college or professional athletic event not related to firearms.
  • Any career center.
  • Any airport passenger terminal, unless the firearm is encased for shipping as lawfully transported baggage.
  • 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.

Holloway clarified that the law prohibits concealed weapons in bars but not a restaurant’s dining area. He reiterated that those owners and managers should consult with legal advisors “because you are going to get some people that test these laws and see what they can and cannot do.”

“We want to make sure that you’re not sued,” Holloway added. “Just like we want to make sure our officers are not sued.”

Police Chief Anthony Holloway, seen here at a recent St. Pete Pride press conference, urged business owners to display signs stating their gun policy. Photo: Mark Parker.

Gun owners

Holloway also offered some advice for those planning to publicly carry concealed firearms, which he called a “huge responsibility.” While training is no longer required, he and other local law enforcement officials plan to host gun-safety classes.

The legislation includes $1.5 million for Florida Department of Law Enforcement grants to fund local firearms training. The law states that anyone carrying a concealed weapon without a permit must keep and display state-issued identification upon demand.

Holloway urged people carrying a weapon not to pull it out and show an officer when stopped. “Let the officers do their job, and just don’t touch it,” he said.

Chamber president Chris Steinocher said people should still obtain a concealed weapons permit. He noted it provides education and allows buyers to skip the three-day waiting period when purchasing from licensed dealers.

“I believe we’re still saying, ‘Hey, weapons are okay, but concealed weapons with a permit are probably even better,'” Steinocher said.



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  1. Avatar


    July 3, 2023at11:14 am


    Although the purpose of a gun is to kill, it requires an intentional pull of a trigger. Your vehicle requires no intentional pull of any trigger. Driving is a privilege exploited by many people everyday. Bad behavior that turns a vehicle into a 4000ib killing machine that claims the life of someone every 8 seconds. The chances of dying from bad behavior behind the wheel of a vehicle a far greater than being shot on any given day. Guns a bigger responsibility you say, not even close. You have a far greater chance of killing someone everyday in your vehicle intentionally or unintentionally. One phone call, one text message, one missed glance away from death of another or your very own, at any moment while on the road. Let that thought sit for a minute.

  2. Avatar


    June 30, 2023at7:12 am

    Glad to see people learning what they can and cannot do in regards to defending themselves against people who have no regard for any laws, signs, or morales.
    We all should have a right to defend ourselves, our families,our country legally and constitutionally from criminals, tyranny and foreign invasions.
    Legal law abiding American citizens are what form the militia needed to defend our great nation from all enemies foreign and domestic!
    While people argue why do we need guns, I argue why do you need anything? Answer to both is simple: Because we are free Americans and they can’t take away anything until they take away our abilities to stop them.
    Anything that keeps law abiding citizens armed and able to be armed is good. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal that you had training and therefore don’t trust that others do too.
    Nobody is fully trained until which time they have to make a decision if lethal force is necessary! That decision alters the lives of all involved including the one that has to make it.
    I have had that training many times over and each time doesn’t get any easier. Four combat tours and 22 years of Marine Corps training and still I will never say I am fully prepared for every situation that requires taking a life. I am, however, fully prepared to do whatever is needed to defend myself, my family, my country from those that have made the decision to take my life, theirs or my country from me.
    Whether I am armed at the time or not I will give my life in their defense!

    Semper Fidelis!

  3. Avatar

    Stephen albro

    June 30, 2023at6:56 am

    I like the idea of this does seem like there are a few holes in the law though.for instance the no longer needing to do training of any kind,I think it should be required when purchasing a firearm.i read part where it said concealed weapon then later on it said open carry. So which is it?

  4. Avatar

    J strachan

    June 29, 2023at1:08 pm

    If you check the constitution there is nothing in there about any permit to carry anything but it does state that THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. that is a constraint against government doing exactly what they are doing.

  5. Avatar


    June 29, 2023at9:42 am

    Bobby you’re wrong. 1st, the 1000 foot law is federal and applies to every state. 2nd if you have a CCW you are allowed to carry within that 1000 foot rule however you are still barred from entering a school building. That is a huge difference than someone without a CCW and is conceal carrying. So the 200 bucks for the permit is worth it.

  6. Avatar

    kevin smith

    June 29, 2023at8:21 am

    You should not need to have a permit to defend the lives of your family, friends , neighbors or anyone for that matter. States that have gone permitless carry and even constitutional carry have not seen an increase in shootings that are not related to other crimes. What we need are prosecutors who will enfirce to the max penalties for illegally using a firearm. No plea deals or downgrading charges.

  7. Avatar


    June 28, 2023at9:02 pm

    For Chuck

    First, government doesn’t request anything, they require it. Second, there’s no comparison of driving and carrying a firearm. Driving is not a constitutional right, whereas carrying a gun is. What other right requires government permission?
    As far as carrying a weapon is to kill, you must not actually be aware of the firearm community. The purpose of carrying a firearm is for defense of self or others. The hope is to never need to use it. In fact, many successful self defense situations never actually involve the use of the firearm. But, even when it does come to using a firearm, it’s not about killing, it’s about stopping the threat.

  8. Avatar


    June 28, 2023at6:48 pm

    Why do government request citizens to have drivers license and not CCW. When carring a weapon, the purpose is to kill.
    Driving a vehicle for the purpose reaching destination. Carring a weapon requires more responsibility.

  9. Avatar


    June 28, 2023at6:17 pm

    Well, Paul, you may be right, but you better never travel out of state with your CCW. You’ll find out the hard way what happens next. Plus, there are laws in several states that prohibit carrying without a permit within 1000 ft of a school. So imagine getting pulled over for speeding in a school zone. You went from a ticket to unlawful possession. Being permitted affects that outcome. My personal experience is that piece of plastic with my picture and name on it gives a bit of credibility that otherwise can’t be assumed to be true by any member of the public who doesn’t know me. They just see “a man with a gun” and imaginations do the rest.

  10. Avatar


    June 28, 2023at4:24 pm

    Putting a sticker, or sign, stating that no guns are allowed, is not enforceable under Florida law. The only thing a business can do, is trespass the individual. Plus, business that put up those signs, are opening themselves up as “gun free zones”, which actually tells the bad guys with guns where to go. I’m not crazy about the new law at all. I hold a CCW and I have been trained on how to use my weapon, how to recognize threats, and I know the Florida Statutes. With this law, that education is not going to happen.

  11. Avatar


    June 28, 2023at11:56 am

    Why should anyone apply for a CC permit, possibly spend about $200.00 , then have to periodically renew it,
    when it’s no longer necessary?
    In my opinion, it’s a bad law and wish that our law enforcement agencies would have spoken up and say so and continue to do so.
    Another issue will be that the approximately 40 states that require permits to carry may hVe a problem with Florida residents without carry permits, thinking Florida law should be honored.

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