With Hurricane Michael bearing down, Governor Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 Florida panhandle counties via Executive Order 18-276. If a mandatory evacuation order is issued, residents in the affected counties can carry concealed firearms without a CCW permit in accordance with Florida Statute 790.01 Unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms.
(a) A person who carries a concealed weapon, or a person who may lawfully possess a firearm and who carries a concealed firearm, on or about his or her person while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to chapter 252 or declared by a local authority pursuant to chapter 870. As used in this subsection, the term “in the act of evacuating” means the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. The 48 hours may be extended by an order issued by the Governor.
Openly carrying firearms, however, is still illegal except under very specific circumstances such as when you’re on your personal property. Do not think that you can walk around your neighborhood with your AR slung across your back or while standing in line at a relief center for an MRE or a bottle of water.
Best advice: keep your firearms concealed and don’t dress in a manner to attract attention.
Also under declared states of emergency, firearm and ammunition sales are banned.
Whenever the sheriff or designated city official determines that there has been an act of violence or a flagrant and substantial defiance of, or resistance to, a lawful exercise of public authority and that, on account thereof, there is reason to believe that there exists a clear and present danger of a riot or other general public disorder, widespread disobedience of the law, and substantial injury to persons or to property, all of which constitute an imminent threat to public peace or order and to the general welfare of the jurisdiction affected or a part or parts thereof, he or she may declare that a state of emergency exists within that jurisdiction or any part or parts thereof.
Whenever the public official declares that a state of emergency exists, pursuant to s. 870.043, the following acts shall be prohibited during the period of said emergency throughout the jurisdiction:
(1) The sale of, or offer to sell, with or without consideration, any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.
(2) The intentional display, after the emergency is declared, by or in any store or shop of any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.
(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty..
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in a criminal act.
(h) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. However, nothing contained in ss. 252.31–252.90 shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed, unless a person is engaged in the commission of a criminal act.
On the personal side, I’m in the affected area and am preparing as best as I can. As a resident of the big bend area, I’m directly in the storm’s path.
The yard and outside area around the house has been cleared of anything that could become flying debris. Hurricane shutters and plywood panels are being put up. Sandbags have also been staged for use just in case.
My wife and I had our hurricane preps stacked up long before the season even started. We don’t go crazy for food, water, and medical supplies right before a storm is predicted to impact us.
Our generator and jerry cans are topped off, as is our truck and sedan. Also my squad car is ready for the eventual call out that always happens after a hurricane hits. We even go as far as having a portable A/C unit just for the master bedroom so we can sleep comfortably when we lose power.
In regards to personal safety, both off and on duty. We keep ourselves at the ready in case some rogue ne’er-do-well decided to target our home or one of our neighbor’s as a five finger discount shopping mart.
As for the general mood of the area. The gas stations in Tallahassee are already starting to run low and folks are making runs on the local supermarkets.
The key to all of this, of course, is to prepare. I had these supplies in place long before Hurricane Michael was a gleam in the National Weather Service’s eye. An ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a hundred pounds of cure.
The key to getting through an emergency situation such as this is having the supplies and goods on hand before the panic. Right now, less-aware people are clamoring for everything; cases of water and gas cans are few and far between on store shelves. People everywhere are stressed and trying to get gas. Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are sold out of generators.
As always, Florida has a tax-free holiday every year at the start of hurricane season (this year’s was from June 1 through June 7, 2018). They do this for a very good reason. Survival essentials like generators, batteries, radios, and other hurricane-related items are sold tax-free.
In the end I hope and pray that this storm weakens and doesn’t hit us hard.
Floridians need to stay safe, stay armed, and be ready to help yourself and your neighbors. Just as in the Carolinas, let’s show the world what being American is all about; stepping up to the plate when it’s needed and helping each other out in a bad situation.