TAMPA, Fla. — Florida will soon become a "permitless carry" state which will allow people to carry concealed guns without a permit – but leaders with Tampa International Airport and the Transportation Security Administration are warning flyers they still can't bring guns through checkpoints.
During a news conference Tuesday morning, TPA Police Chief Charlie Vazquez explains that carrying a gun through a checkpoint – with or without a permit – is still a crime.
While flyers are allowed to ship weapons that are securely packaged according to TSA standards, Vazquez stresses they can't just be brought without being declared.
"So if you come to the airport and you get caught at TSA through screen checkpoints,... you'll more than likely be arrested," he explained. "It's going to ruin your trip wherever you were going and then you'll have to deal with that in court."
Bringing a weapon to the airport is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida which is punishable by 60 days in jail and or a $500 fine and up to six months probation, according to Vazquez.
"Our goal today is to inform and educate before we have to enforce," the police chief said. "Even though it's 'permitless carry,' the same places that were off limits before are [still] off limits on July 1."
TSA Federal Security Director Kirk Skinner explains the new law going into effect on July 1 won't change the flow of airport checkpoints.
"It's highly recommended when you come to the airport before you even start to travel, pack in an empty bag – make sure it's totally empty and start packing then," Skinner said. "You'd be surprised how many times we hear, 'I didn't know it was in there, this was the same bag I went to the firing range with last week,' but that's not going to be an excuse."
Fines for bringing a gun to the airport were increased recently with the first offense costing people up to $14,950, according to Skinner. Second-time offenders will see significantly greater fines than that.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the gun legislation into law back in April. It will take effect on July 1.
The new law, CS/HB 543, allows people in Florida to carry a concealed firearm by just having a valid ID. No additional permitting or training would be required to lawfully conceal a firearm in Florida. Some supporters of "constitutional carry" legislation wanted the requirement to hold an ID removed.
10 Tampa Bay's Claire Farrow contributed to this report.