Is It Legal to Carry Firearms at Florida Theaters?

Frequently, after publishing content online, I find myself learning something. Often this is from looking at what type of traffic our websites get.

This week is certainly no exception. After publishing some thoughts about the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting and contrasting it with a recent Florida shooting incident, I’ve learned that a lot of people have a similar question:

Is it legal to carry a firearm into a theater in the State of Florida?

This is of particular interest to me since AMC Theatres has a nationwide policy banning firearms from their locations. The ban therefore applies to the location we sometimes patronize in a nearby mall, and to at least one other Florida location in Clearwater (see a copy of the AMC “No Weapons Allowed” sign here).

First: Florida Law

Florida law does not specifically prohibit the legal (concealed) carry of firearms in theaters. Of course, legal concealed carry in Florida requires a Concealed Weapons Permit. (If you are already a permit holder, then you are well aware that a number of conditions apply to make your concealed carry of a firearm legal.)

Without a permit, in Florida you are not permitted to carry a concealed firearm on your person anywhere other than in your home or place of business.

There are many ins and outs to Florida law related to firearms and other weapons. I am not an attorney or expert in the law, nor would I pretend to be one. If you own (or plan to own) firearms in Florida, then I strongly recommend that you get a copy of the book widely considered to be the “Bible” of Florida firearms law by attorney Jon Gutmacher. Don’t just get a copy… devour it and keep it close by for reference.

Second: “No Guns Allowed” Signs

AMC Theatres: No Weapons Allowed, Courtesy of gruntzooki

Some businesses choose to place signage prohibiting firearms in their establishments. AMC Theatres is an example. Regal Cinemas may be another example if various internet chatter is to be believed.

Again, I am not an attorney or expert, but from my research a business that has invited you (by opening its doors to the public) onto its premises cannot prevent you from bringing a legal concealed weapon onto its premises.

That said, if they discover your firearm (which one has to really wonder how they would do if in fact it is properly concealed), they can ask you to leave. If any business asks you to leave and you refuse, you are likely to be guilty of trespass (regardless of whether you have a firearm).

If you are found guilty of trespass and you are carrying a firearm, then you are quite likely to be guilty of armed trespass, which is a third degree felony.

This is probably not something you want to risk. It is also quite possibly open to interpretation, which could go badly for you if you find yourself in this situation. Find more on this topic here.

The good news is that you are unlikely to be guilty of trespass (at least in a business which is open to the public—assuming you are there during its hours of operation) unless you refuse to leave after first being warned to leave.

Sarasota Private School Produces “Music Man” at the Sarasota Opera House

Sarasota Opera House

It’s widely accepted that Sarasota is a city of the arts. Dating back to the days of John Ringling, the arts are in our DNA. And since we have such a focus on the arts, it stands to reason that some spectacular opportunities exist for our children to be exposed to the stage from an early age.

Julie Rohr Academy’s recent production of “Music Man” is a perfect example.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a little biased. But as I often say when I talk about how gorgeous and talented my wife is, “Just because I’m biased, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong!”

Here’s why I’m biased: my daughter was in the show.

But here’s why I’m not wrong: my daughter (who is just wrapping up Pre-K) has had the most amazing experiences on stage this year in her time at Julie Rohr Academy. The school — the Sarasota private school with a performing arts focus — produces 4 shows each year. Each class is involved in each show in some way. And I’ll admit, most of the shows are parent-pleasers that feature the children singing, dancing, and otherwise enjoying themselves on stage for a production that you may not want to invite your friends and neighbors to… but the grandparents wouldn’t miss for the world!

“Music Man,” however, was quite the opposite.

In fact, aside from their diminutive stature, you’d have never guessed that not one of the kids in the show was yet out of the 8th grade. The school did cast a handful of adults in some parts — mostly as “extras” and members of the barbershop-style singing group. But all of the lead parts were played by the school’s students. And they were absolutely stellar.

Heading up the cast, and handling an enormous volume of lines, singing parts & stage time, were the young Bryce Vokus as Harold Hill and Kristina LePage in the role of Marian Paroo. Keep an eye out for the two of them — as well as many of the other young performers — they’ve got a future! Every last young man and lady in the production demonstrated a tremendous amount of poise and excellence in their work.

In addition to the excellent performances from the school’s students, the Center for Musical Theater at Julie Rohr Academy ponied up for a fantastic venue (the gorgeous Sarasota Opera House) and some amazing sets in order to produce this year’s big final show.

The school has a tradition of putting on one big show like this at the end of the year. And I’ll admit, never having previously had a child enrolled at the school… I would have been unlikely to attend one of them. But after what I witnessed this year, I’d go back any time for one of this school’s productions… regardless of whether I have a child of my own in the show or not.

Big kudos to Julie Rohr McHugh, the Center for Musical Theater at Julie Rohr Academy, and the family of teachers, faculty, staff, and parents for doing something that Sarasota can truly be proud of… and something the kids who were involved will never forget. It was no small undertaking.

Yes… I’m a proud papa. My daughter was (of course) the cutest 5-year-old who ever existed on stage in her period costume… bellowing out “76 Trombones” at the top of her lungs. But it brings tears to my eyes to think about all those kids who have learned so much from their experiences putting on shows like this one with Julie Rohr Academy. The school is truly an asset to our great city.

I have no idea what’s on tap for next year’s production. But I can’t wait!

“Caught in the Net” at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre

Sometimes, you just need to laugh and enjoy yourself. And when that time comes, there just isn’t anything better than good food, the company of good friends, and a British farce to do the trick. So when we got word from some friends that a plan had been formulated to take in “Caught in the Net” at the Golden Apple last Friday night, we jumped on it right away.

My wife and I love the Golden Apple. To us it is a “known” in a world of “unknowns.” You can always expect to be treated well, enjoy a good meal, and sample some of the very best local talent (and in a community like Sarasota where local talent is off the charts, that’s saying something!).

However, we knew nothing about the play that was on deck for the night we were scheduled to go. Nothing, that is, except that it’s a sequel to the other production that the theater is currently presenting in rolling repertory. In fact, we’d received a strong “hint” from theater staff that we should really see the other one (“Run For Your Wife”) first.

But… schedules are tricky, babysitting arrangements even more so, and it’s just too hard getting together with these two couples — people whose friendships are measured in decades rather than years, and who we just don’t see often enough.

So… we went for it anyway.

And boy are we glad we did!

“Caught in the Net” is a brilliantly-written play by Ray Cooney that takes place (according to the program) 17 years after the events of “Run For Your Wife.” Set entirely within the living quarters of two separate households (which happen to share the same space on-stage), the fast-paced opening scene quickly introduces the audience to the two families at the center of the unfolding drama. Think of it like a smartly-produced split-screen film segment… for the the stage.

As the scene unfolds, we quickly learn that the teen-aged boy from one family has “met” (online) the teen-aged girl from the other. And as they compare notes, they discover that not only do their fathers share a first, middle and last name, but also that — irony of all ironies — each has a cab driver for a Dad.

Even for those of us in the audience that had not yet seen the first play, it didn’t take long for us to figure out where things were going. Mr. John Smith, it seems, has been keeping up two families for the better part of two decades… and while working hard to keep his secret well-hidden, the determined young teenagers are about to be the undoing of it all. And that, of course, is where the tension begins for Mr. Smith, and where the fun starts for the audience.

The play is a hilarious romp through the chicanery of deception as John Smith and his sole confidante — a somewhat dim-witted boarder living with one of Smith’s two families — try to hold it all together.

No spoilers here — the play is a must-see, as is (I’m quite certain) it’s counterpart. The cast was nothing short of spectacular, and even managed to convince most of our party that their British accents were all authentic. Cliff Roles was brilliant in the role of Stanley Gardner (the boarder), and was — we discovered — the only cast member hailing from the British Isles and thus, the only with an authentic accent. Heidi Davis and Leigh Anne West were strong in their roles as the two Mrs. Smiths, opposite Ernest Weldon as the harried Mr. Smith. Of special delight were the two youngest members of the cast: Geena Ravella as the teenage daughter and Colton Herschberger (on the night we attended) as the teenage son. And Richard LeVene provided lots of comic relief as Stanley’s outspoken and quite senile father.

To round out the experience, dinner was fabulous as always. We helped ourselves to plenty from the buffet, where I personally enjoyed the delicious roast beef and some excellent mashed potatoes. The broccoli was quite good as well. The special treat, of course, was the dessert. My wife opted for a gooey pumpkin cake before curtain time, while I chose to have the chocolate torte arrive at intermission.  Since they were spaced apart, we ended up splitting both, and they were delicious.

All in all, it was a fabulous night out with favorite friends. I highly recommend that you treat yourself to an experience at the Golden Apple with the Turoff family and their top-notch team. You might just run into us there catching “Run For Your Wife!”