Can I bring a firearm into a Hospital in Florida?

As a gun trust attorney it is my duty to keep up with the latest gun laws throughout the country and clients are often surprised how different the laws can vary state to state.  I was recently asked by a client if someone with a valid CWL license is allowed to carry a gun inside a Florida Hospital and thought I would share my thoughts on the issue.

Florida has some great laws regarding a person’s right to bear and keep arms, however the state does have some limits on where a concealed firearm can be carried.  Florida Statute section 394.458 states that “except as authorized by law” it is a third degree felony for any person to bring, carry, possess, or transport a “firearm or other dangerous weapon” Upon the grounds of any “hospital (or mental health facility) providing mental health services.”  As a practical matter, almost every hospital and hospital emergency room provides mental health services.  This means that from a purely technical standpoint, the statute seems to prohibit firearms or weapons anywhere on its grounds.  However, there are some important exceptions.
The exceptions lie in the phrase “except as authorized by law.”  Florida Statute section 790.25 authorizes “securely encased” weapons in vehicles.  Therefore, a securely encased weapon or firearm in a vehicle should be considered “authorized by law.”  Likewise, Florida Statute 790.06(12) lists all the places a person cannot carry a firearm with a CWL and hospitals or mental facilities are not on this list.  A good argument could be made that it is legal to carry a weapon with a CWL in places where the statute doesn’t prohibit the act.
There are no court decisions on the matter, therefore I cannot recommend someone bring a firearm inside a hospital with complete certainty.  It is likely the issue will be addressed either by the legislature or by a court soon, which will give us all a clearer answer.  Therefore, leave the gun properly stored inside your vehicle unless you are looking for a long court battle.  If the hospital does not offer any mental health services, then there should be no issue with someone carrying a firearm.

The next question I usually receive is it okay to leave my firearm inside a vehicle?

Florida’s parking lot laws come from Florida Statute 790.251, which makes it illegal for a business or employer to prohibit the use of parking areas to customers or employees who keep a lawful firearm and/or ammo in the locked vehicle.  The law also forbids the questioning of employees or customers to determining if he or she has a stored firearm, and forbids searches to determine if a firearm is being kept in the vehicle.

It is important to note this law has some drafting issues, and a recent ruling by a federal district court held the provisions applying to customers and other invitees unconstitutional as written due to poor drafting.  This really leaves the law up to the interpretation of the courts.

Likewise, the statute granted several over broad exceptions to various business interests, with one notable exception being the parking lot of a theme park like Disney World.  The law prohibits the storage of guns near a place where combustible or explosive materials such as fireworks are held.  This provision has been held to cover all of their property, even the portions that have nothing to do with fireworks.  This means that firearms cannot be carried inside any of Disney World parks, hotels, or other attractions.

Therefore, a person with a CWL may be able to leave firearms inside his or her vehicle in a hospital parking lot as long as it is otherwise legal .  One of the best ways to protect your rights as a gun owner is to establish a valid NFA gun trust in your state.  These trusts can provide asset protection to your firearms as well as allow the guns to pass to your children and grandchildren without going through the probate process.  For more information on where firearms and other weapons can be carried in Florida, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today.

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