U.S. Law Shield
June 17, 2014
U.S. Law Shield
Boating With Your Firearms

Dear Florida Members,

Boating and Florida; to many, the two are inseparable. If you decide to legally carry a firearm on your boat, there are a number of factors to consider. They range from the legal means of carry, to the type of firearm carried, and how it is carried.

General Laws Regarding Carrying

Florida law allows any law-abiding citizen age 18 or older (who is not otherwise prohibited by law from owning a firearm) to carry a firearm, loaded or unloaded, in their conveyance without a license, so long as it is securely contained or carried in a manner that is not readily accessible for immediate use. The term "conveyance" applies to an automobile, personal aircraft, or boat, or personal water craft ("PWC"). The phrase "not readily accessible for immediate use" generally means tucked into a glove box or console (in the case of a handgun), and/or securely encased in a holster or gun case. The normally accepted definition of "not readily accessible" is the two action rule - two separate actions to acquire the firearm. That basically means one action to open the compartment, and another to remove the firearm from its holster or case.

If an individual is engaged in legal hunting, fishing or camping activities from their boat, the "not readily accessible" rule does not apply; or to put it another way, you may have your firearm accessible. Additionally, if the boater has a valid Florida Concealed Weapons Firearms License (or one from a state where reciprocal license agreements exist), it also does not apply and you can carry a handgun concealed on your person. Concealed weapon means just that. You can have it in your possession at all times, loaded and ready.

It is worth noting that one area you cannot carry while on your boat is seaports. Seaports will provide clear notice of the prohibition against carrying, and should you choose to ignore the notice you will have committed a first degree misdemeanor.

Boating Abroad with Your Firearm

These laws apply to Florida and U.S. federal waters. If you intend to dock in a foreign port you must contact that country's consulate in advance, and find out what their laws are. Many nations, including the Bahamas, have stricter firearms laws than ours, and the consequences of violating them can be severe.

There are no laws that govern firearms on boats in international waters. The Coast Guard may board your vessel at any time and perform random searches; when this happens, you must let them know you are in possession of a firearm. The standard procedure for the Coast Guard is to document the serial number of any firearm you have on board.

When boating to other states, keep in mind that state laws differ, so contact the local law-enforcement agency to find more information. For those boating to Florida, Capt. Robert Moore of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the top marine law-enforcement group in Florida, says that in Florida the same firearms laws apply on land and sea in Florida's coastal zone.

Interacting with Law Enforcement or other Authorities

When a law enforcement officer or Coast Guard personnel approach your boat, you are well-advised to tell them that you do have firearms aboard and tell them where they are. You are not required to do so unless asked, but no law enforcement officer likes to be surprised by the sudden, and unexpected, appearance of a firearm. This courtesy is advisable regardless of which navigable water you are in.

"I have dealt with people carrying firearms my entire professional law-enforcement career and have come to expect it," says Moore. "But it is important that the responsible person on board let any officer know the whereabouts of firearms when stopped. It's just a reasonable effort to ensure that the officer doesn't end up feeling threatened as a result of a boat operator reaching into the glove or dry box to retrieve the boat's registration, which is right next to a holstered handgun. Some folks might justifiably get really anxious about that time, and it's really easy to casually mention that there is a firearm on board and where it is located just to keep things at ease."

As you can see, Florida follows a pretty similar set of rules for carrying firearms while boating as they do for carrying the firearm on land. We hope this newsletter provides you with a better understanding of your legal rights and obligations for carrying a firearm while boating, and if you have any questions about Florida firearms laws, do not hesitate to contact us.

Seminar Dates Approaching: Have You Registered?




This is a last call to our members for one of our upcoming seminars. There are still seats available at the Home Safety Academy sponsored seminar on June 19th. This event will be an excellent opportunity to hear from your firearms program attorneys as well as one of the NRA�s top 10 instructors � David D�Eugenio. We encourage all of our members to grab a friend on their way over to the event and help expose them to a firearms environment where education is a core component. We also welcome all of our facilities and instructors to attend the event AND BRING THEIR STUDENTS. If you are a facility and would like to attend, feel free to contact our Florida Manager Scott Smith.

If you can�t make it on the 19th, don�t worry! We also have an event planned with the Firearms Training Academy in Davie, FL on June 21st. Just give Attorney Ron Anania a call to register for the event � (855)872-2763

You can also find a full list of upcoming events on our website, www.GunLawSeminar.com. We hope to see you at one of these events!
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