County rules on Shell Key

To steer clear of trouble on Shell Key, please be aware of the above listed rules.  The rules are enforced by the Pinellas County Sheriff with an aquatic unit called the ‘LIMA Unit.     The Sheriff patrols the island on an intermittent basis – especially on holidays and weekends.

Be aware that you need a camping permit to stay overnight on the Island.  And,  special rules apply to campers.

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Article: County rules on Shell Key
22 comments on “County rules on Shell Key
  1. Carolyn says:

    I was there yesterday if you want a picture of the sign.

  2. Tom says:

    Beg to differ. I feel much safer when I’m carrying and I find myself and family in an uncomfortable and potentially aggressive situation, perhaps breaking down in a sketchy neighborhood or in the middle of nowhere behind chased my an aggressive driver. I know I have some way to defend my family if things get ugly. You are free of course to be completely helpless, that is your right. Remember when you are seconds from death, the police are just 20 minutes away.. well after that 10 minute call with the 911 operator where she asks you 90 questions before sending help.

  3. Donald Campbell says:

    The portion of the rules signage that state: “Firearms Prohibited” is a clear violation of Florida Statue; 790.33 and is subject to a fine of $5,000.00 to any governing body that attempts enforce it.
    I am assuming this sign is an out dated version that has not been corrected to fall in line with the current Statue. Correct?

    • Jack Coletti says:

      You are correct about the image of the rules sign being out of date. The firearms provision has since been blocked out on those signs. If anyone has a current closeup of the signs, I’ll post it – otherwise, I will try to get an updated image next time I go out.

    • John says:

      You may not be correct. 790.33 begins with: ” Except as expressly provided by the State Constitution or general law…” If you look into it you will probably find a state law that gives the state, counties and cities the right to create gun free zones. An example of a gun free zone would be a public school or a courthouse. I would have to look it up and it might take me a while to do so, Florida has a lot of laws, but I would imagine that wildlife sanctuaries and certain public parks, playgrounds etc. might be construed as legitimate gun free zones. Obviously hunting would not be permitted in a preserve or sanctuary, that kind of defeats the purpose. Law enforcement could argue that carrying a gun into a wildlife sanctuary indicates intent to poach. Unfortunately, legislators are notorious for deliberately wording laws in a somewhat ambiguous and complicated way leaving it up to judges and juries to untangle them. I think this might be the case here. Of course we won’t find out how it goes until someone tests the law first. I believe in gun rights but I also believe in protecting wildlife sanctuaries so I am going to leave it up to someone else to test in this particular way.

      • Donald Campbell says:

        Actually the reason this law was created, is because the very thing you just mentioned was being done by county, city, and various municipalities on their own self assumed authority. If it is not listed as a no carry Zone in 790 by the Department of Agriculture, then no other governing body can create a no carry zone on it’s own. The is not open to interpretation. It is very cut and dry, and the $5000.00 and removal from office to any governing body that tries to violate the statue, has done a fairly good job of detouring any illegal attempts of violating the statue

        • Jim says:

          Maybe so, but if I saw someone carrying a gun on Shell Key, I’d put my family back in the boat and look for someplace safer to recreate. I can’t think of any reason that someone would need such a violent weapon in a nature preserve.

          • Jim says:

            And, when you look at the other list of “prohibited” items, allowing guns is all the more ridiculous. You’re allowed to swagger around the island with a gun making everyone feel uncomfortable and afraid – but god forbid someone should see your naked butt!

            • says:

              “Swagger around the Island with a gun?” ” You would gather up your family and leave the island if you saw a gun?” How would you know if a concealed license holder was carrying a gun in your presence? Do you think he is going to walk (swagger) up to you and say ; I have gun on me man! if you actually knew how many state licensed concealed weapon holder there are in the state, peacefully going about there business every day, you would never leave your house again.

              Trust me you are not going to know if a licensed concealed weapon holder is standing 2 feet from you. I am a licensed armed security officer, and I have trouble picking one out of the crowd.
              This is the very reason that the Great State of Florida implemented concealed carry for licensed weapon holders vs. open carry. it’s because the state of Florida understands that a number of people have a strong fear of guns , to the point that they would panic at the sight of a legally licensed weapon carrier open carrying a gun. It sounds to me that you may fall into that category. Please don’t get me wrong; This doesn’t make you a bad person, or irrational , no more than it makes a legal gun carrier, a gun toting outlaw that will quote; SWAGGER up to you and your family, just to scare you off the island. Trust me; you are in the presence of armed citizens every where you go, and you are not even aware of it, relax.

              • Jim says:

                Yep. Because there are so many places to conceal a gun in your bathing suit 😉 Hey I understand that there are some environments where a person could legitimately feel they need a gun for protection. Wild areas with bears – or maybe Urban Washington DC. Personally, I think a gun increases most people’s chances of getting hurt if they are trying to defend themselves against other people with guns. With bears, on the other hand, you’d be better off with a big gun. But there are no threats to people on Shell Key. If someone brings a gun to the island, they become the threat.

                By advertising that guns are allowed on Shell Key, we are increasing the threat to everyone out there. Maybe you are a trustworthy gun owner – but many gun owners are not. People are already completely irresponsible with their guns. Every 4th of July, and New Years hundreds of “legitimate gun owners” shoot their guns into the air – right here in St. Pete alone – while blissfully ignorant of the deadly consequences. That’s all we need on Shell Key.

                • Don C. says:

                  You don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate Licensed Gun carrier, or owner, and a outlaw thug, that happens to own a gun. If you shoot a gun up in the air, you are a not a responsible gun owner, you are a outlaw. if you are considered to be, a threat to everyone on the island, than you have either been wrongly perceived by your peers, or have done something outside of the law to create a reasonable fear that you are about to harm someone.Once again; illegal making you an outlaw, and irresponsible gun owner. You obviously have a serous fear of guns, believing that anyone carrying a gun, has got to be a threat to you, and everybody around you. And no the corrected sign is not advertising that guns are allowed on the island. it is simply not illegally prohibiting licensed gun carriers from exercising their right to carry. You do want to see everybody in compliance with the law, right?
                  The State of Florida doesn’t have a problem with legally licensed gun carriers carrying their guns on the island or parks, and I don’t either. You are confusing responsible gun owners with outlaw thugs. Your fears are totally irrational and misguided.
                  Personally; I don’t have a crystal ball, and have no way of knowing where and when I might be in a dangerous situation. So I always carry a gun, I always wear my seat belt when I drive, I keep a fire extinguisher in the house. I have a smoke alarm in the kitchen, and hallway leading to the bedrooms. If I take the boat out, I either let someone know where I am going to be or file a float plan. I don’t have a paranoid fear of fires, auto crashes, or being lost at sea while boating. There things are all just pieces of safety equipment, or safety measures taken, because it is the responsible thing to do. As a first responder, I have been in situations where I have seen the value of all these pieces of safety equipment first hand.
                  your argument; That guns are bad, and anyone carrying a gun must be bad too, don’t hold too much water with me, and personally, I find it silly , but those are your opinions and you are free to think as you wish.

                  • Jim says:

                    “your argument; That guns are bad, and anyone carrying a gun must be bad too, don’t hold too much water with me,”

                    I did not make this argument.

                    “You don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate Licensed Gun carrier, or owner, and a outlaw thug,”

                    Yes, this is my point exactly. It’s impossible to tell the difference.

                    “…Your fears are totally irrational and misguided.”

                    No. They are not. The presence of guns definitely raises the level of threat to life and limb. I accept that I live in a gun culture. And I don’t run around in fear as you suggest because I realize the chances of being shot are relatively low. But not as low as in countries where people don’t own guns. I have lived in European countries where guns have been banned since after WWII (at which time the continent was flooded with guns) – and you know what? Their murder rates are a tiny fraction of ours. And NOBODY over there thinks they need a gun for protection – because they don’t. So yea – it IS possible to get rid of criminals with guns as they have demonstrated. It just takes time, will and patience.

                    Look. I actually respect your argument about using a gun as a tool. If guns were better regulated and licensing requirements were more strict, I would probably not feel as strongly about it. So, you are free to go on advocating the use of guns for protection – and I’ll keep advocating for non-violent alternatives. To each his own.

                  • Eileen C. says:

                    Guns on shell key are a real danger. Here is what happens when everyone uses guns. Over 60 people shot in one city over the holiday weekend. You have to go to the third world to see similar shooting rates. It’s sickening …

            • BIll says:

              Jim, Don is absolutely correct in his understanding of 790. If you quake at the thought of armed people who are lawfully and responsibly carrying concealed, I am really curious about how you feel about the criminals and thugs that carry? Your fear of weapons does not trump my Constitutional right to self-protection. How, exactly, would you intend to protect your family in the event that someone threatens them with bodily harm? Singing Kumbayah hasn’t worked yet. Gun ownership isn’t for everyone. But you have absolutely no right to impose your fears on anybody else.

              • Jim says:

                “Don is absolutely correct in his understanding of 790.”

                I am not disputing this fact.

                “If you quake at the thought of armed people who are lawfully and responsibly carrying concealed, I am really curious about how you feel about the criminals and thugs that carry?”

                I feel pretty much the same about them. They are an even greater threat. No big surprise there.

                “Your fear of weapons does not trump my Constitutional right to self-protection”

                It is by no means clear that the framers wanted everyone to have guns all the time. Hence the phrase “well regulated” militia. The constitution was written at a time when guns were kept in the locked town armory – not in people’s pockets. And your constitutional right to self protection does not trump my right to self protection either.

                “How, exactly, would you intend to protect your family in the event that someone threatens them with bodily harm? ”

                By being alert and smart enough to avoid dangerous situations – like a person carrying a gun on Shell Key, for example. Most certainly NOT by getting in to a gun fight with my family present. That would be insane! A crack addict could kill my whole family with a gun – even after I put several bullets in him. It’s just not worth getting in to gun fight to protect my wallet.

                “But you have absolutely no right to impose your fears on anybody else.”

                Nor do you. One man’s fear is another man’s courage. Advocating guns for protection is also the result of fear. And, advocating peaceful alternatives takes a great deal of courage.

                • Eileen C. says:

                  Great comment, Jim! People keep guns because they are afraid. But it’s a false sense of security. Guns make us less safe, not more.

                • Rick says:

                  That’s not what well regulated meant in the context of the 2nd. Think of it as meaning more like well stocked or well prepared. If the people did not personally own guns they could not form a very effective militia when called to duty. There was no town armory and this was long before the national guard was invented.

                  • Jim says:

                    “Well regulated” is supposed to mean “stocked” or well prepared?!?! In what universe? Regulate has always meant ‘to control’ as in “regulate the air flow’. By this reasoning, ‘regulating alcohol’ means your supposed to keep a well stocked liqueur cabinet. And of course there were town armories. In the revolutionary war, *every* town had an armory. Here is a quote from supreme court justice John Paul Stevens on the subject …

                    “For more than 200 years following the adoption of that amendment, federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by that text was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms. Thus, in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated Militia.”
                    When I joined the court in 1975, that holding was generally understood as limiting the scope of the Second Amendment to uses of arms that were related to military activities. During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything.”

                    -Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

                    So yea – The notion that universal gun ownership is some canonical and inherent American right is a recent distortion of the framers’ original intent – and as it was understood and practiced for the first 200 years of our nation’s existence. This long standing policy was changed recently by activist conservative judges who don’t have the humility, wisdom and courage of our founding fathers.

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