Lee’s note: This is the first installment of our Hurricane Irma special coverage. As this now-Category 5 beast bears down on the Gunshine State, we will have stories on emergency kits, safeguarding your firearms, personal security and much, much more.
I sympathize with folks whose neighborhoods have been damaged by a hurricane.
The occasional “You loot, we shoot” signs are an expression of their loss, as well as a dash of bravado. Truth be known, they likely provide a bit of deterrence to potential looters.
But make no mistake, neither a state of emergency nor a martial law declaration change the basic premise governing the use of deadly force: Deadly force may only be used in the defense of your life or the life of another.
Legally, looting is a property crime, usually charged as burglary or theft. Neither crime merits the use of deadly force. There’s no statute that allows a victim to shoot someone over their “stuff.”
Florida Emergency Concealed-Carry Statute
One tool Florida politicians have given evacuees is the state “emergency-carry law,” which is also known as the “Hurricane gun law.”
The statute, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2015, allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms — regardless of whether they have a Florida Concealed Weapon Firearm License — during a declared mandatory evacuation during a state of emergency.
The law allows for a two-day/48-hour period, but Gov. Scott can extend this window if needed.
To be clear, if you’re ordered to leave your home and you’re packing up your car with your family, pets and valuables, you can and should bring a firearm.