Backpacking with a firearm is a personal choice that all wilderness backpacker’s make. I carry a firearm when I am in a wilderness area for personal protection. I have been asked on many occasions if it is legal to backpack with a firearm openly in the state of Florida and this article will discuss the Florida State Statute allowing me to legally do so.
I am allowed to do so because of Florida State Statute 790.25(H). It is important to note that Florida is not an open carry state when it comes to carrying a firearm.
Florida statute (790.25(H), states that an individual is legally allowed to openly carry a firearm when they are actively Fishing, Hunting, or Camping. As a Wilderness Backpacker I always spend at least one night in a Wilderness area. Staying overnight in a wilderness area fulfills the requirement of this statute that you are camping. If I were to just go for a day hike and not stay the night in a basecamp then this statute would not apply.
It is important that you look up this statute and educate yourself on the specifics. It is important to understand that this statute applies to individual’s that are legally and lawfully able to have in their possession a firearm. So if you are a convicted felon, have some type of domestic injunction against you, or have been mentally judged incompetent by the courts, and or other restrictions, this statute will not apply to you and you cannot legally and lawfully carry a firearm.
You have seen me backpacking in other states, and I have thoroughly researched those states statutes and I was able to legally carry a firearm into those wilderness areas. This statute also does not allow you to carry a firearm concealed.
If I were to cover my firearm with a towel as I backpacked in Florida then that means it is concealed and I need to have a concealed weapons permit (CCW). This also means that if I were to put my firearm in my backpack then it is also considered concealed and not legal under this statute unless I have a CCW.
If you choose to carry a firearm under this statute then make sure that you are properly trained in using the firearm you choose to carry. Make sure that you have been to the range and fired the weapon that you will use. Do not use it in a reckless manner.
Going into a Wilderness area in Florida does not mean that you can automatically discharge your weapon. If you start target shooting in a wilderness area without a legally valid reason then it is reckless and you will be held criminally or civilly liable or both.
Lastly, if you are stopped by law enforcement, please cooperate with them. Being confrontational only makes your adventure difficult and law enforcement officers want to make sure that your experience and those around you are safe. Lawfully carrying a firearm in today’s society has been a hot topic. Understanding your rights and cooperating makes the process of legally carrying a firearm a safe and enjoyable experience.
Always practice safe deployment of a firearm and thoroughly research the states firearm statutes before carrying any firearm.