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HB 543 leaves some confused where guns are, aren’t allowed

There were two incidents involving handguns at Pete’s Bar, a well-known college dive bar in Atlantic Beach in the last month alone. 

Olaf Brurberg Anderson IV, 24, and Shane Adcox, 55, were arrested on two separate occasions on Sep. 9 and Sep. 15 for allegedly carrying concealed loaded firearms into the establishment. 

This comes after the recently passed House Bill 543, which Gov. Ron Desantis signed into law on April 3.

At its core, the new law allows people in Florida to carry a concealed weapon or handgun with or without a valid concealed weapons license, as long as the prerequisites for acquiring a license are satisfied.

However, at least in the alleged cases of Adcox and Anderson, the bill has generated confusion regarding the details of when and where this law is accepted.

It is imperative that Florida citizens understand the consequences of carrying concealed weapons into any establishment that serves alcohol, especially if they’re under the influence of any mind-altering substances. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Ron DeSantis)
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s of Florida HB 543 was a “legislative victory” as he prepared to run for president, the Associated Press reported. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Ron DeSantis)

Under HB 543, Florida enforces various restrictions on where you can and cannot carry a weapon, concealed or not. It’s prohibited in police stations, courthouses/courtrooms, school campuses, establishments serving alcohol and any place where federal law prohibits the carrying of a firearm. 

University of North Florida Police Department Chief Frank Mackesy said, in regards to HB 543, that nothing has changed in regards to where carrying a firearm is prohibited, except that people now do not need a permit to carry a gun. 

“It wasn’t permitted then, and it is not permitted now,” Mackesy said. “The law did not change allowing people to carry guns into bars.”

Any of-age students planning to go out to alcohol-serving establishments in Florida should, as always, be vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety. 

“Know the type of club you are going to be attending, know the area in which the club is located, make sure you know who it is you are going to the club with, who you’re going to meet up with once you get to the club,” Chief Mackesy emphasized. “If you see any type of behavior that’s alarming, remove yourself from that specific area of the club as you possibly can.”

Students should also know how and who to reach out to if they encounter someone unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. 

In the words of Chief Mackesy: 

“If you see somebody with a gun, then you should tell the proper authorities. If you suspect somebody is carrying a gun, but you cannot see it, you should tell the authorities.”

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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Tatum Harrison, Copy Editor
Tatum Harrison is a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in English with a minor in marketing. She is currently a copyediting intern at Spinnaker.
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Justin Nedrow is a Jacksonville-based photographer who started volunteering for Spinnaker in 2020 and recently graduated in spring 2023 with a degree in sports management from the University of North Florida. Taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos, Justin has helped Spinnaker reporters cover everything from sports games, protests, ordinary campus life and more. Photography is a passion project for Justin, one he started to meet new people and express himself without words.

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