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Understanding Gun Laws in Florida

As a gun owner or potential gun owner, it's essential to understand the complexities of Florida's gun laws. These laws evolve, and new gun laws in Florida affect your gun ownership, like those involving concealed carry.

When in doubt or facing legal trouble, don't wait to consult an experienced legal counselor who is well-versed in Florida gun laws.

Overview of Florida Gun Regulations

Gun owners or prospective gun owners in Florida often have questions about the strictness of Florida's gun laws. While Florida does have numerous gun laws, they are not as strict as other states, including California, Illinois, and New York.

For example, there is no special permit potential gun owners must obtain in order to purchase a firearm. Instead, individuals wishing to buy a gun must pass a background check. There are generally no restrictions on thetypes of firearms individuals may own or the number of firearms a person can purchase.

Recent changes in gun laws have made it legal for gun owners to carry their concealed firearms, something that required a permit in years past. Florida gun owners cannot, however, openly carry their weapons under most circumstances.

Florida gun owners should take special note of gun laws and familiarize themselves with pertinent regulations. Failure to comply with state and federal laws can result in legal repercussions.

Permitless Carry Laws in Florida

Person with a handgun on a holster using permitless carry laws

In previous years, gun owners were required to obtain a concealed weapons permit before being legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm. As of July 1, 2023, however, Florida gun owners may carry concealed firearms or weapons without a special permit. This law includes handguns, electronic weapons or devices, knives, tear gas guns, or billies.

Even with the change in Florida law, concealed weapon licenses are still relevant. In fact, the Florida Department of Agriculture continues to issue new permits to gun owners who wish to take advantage of certain benefits, including reciprocity with other states that recognize Florida's concealed weapons license.

Permitless Carry Eligibility and Implications

While the law has changed, it does not mean just anyone can purchase and carry a weapon. To carry a concealed firearm in Florida, you must still meet the same criteria required to apply for a concealed weapon permit under the law.

To be eligible for Florida permitless carry, you must first satisfy certain requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • Being 21 years of age or older;
  • Being a United States resident and citizen or a permanent resident;
  • Carrying a government-issued ID and providing it to an officer upon request;
  • No physical ailments that impair the safe handling of a firearm;
  • No history of abusing controlled substances;
  • No chronic or habitual consumption of alcohol which may render you too impaired to safely handle a firearm; and
  • No current injunctions for domestic violence or other violent crimes.

Additionally, even if you are eligible to carry a concealed weapon, there are specific locations where you cannot legally have a weapon, including, but not limited to, any law enforcement station, courthouse, polling place, or other location where carrying a firearm is prohibited by federal law.

Violating Florida's permitless carry law can result in a charge for a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for second-degree misdemeanors include fines and jail time.

Concealed Carry Regulations

While Florida now allows permitless carry, gun owners can still acquire concealed weapons licenses. The process for acquiring a concealed weapons permit includes:

  • Completing a firearms training course and obtaining a certificate of completion;
  • Taking a passport-style photo within 30 days of applying for your license;
  • Submitting your application in person or online and paying the required fees; and
  • Having your fingerprints taken within 90 days of submitting your application.

You should receive an approval or denial within 90 days.

The requirements for concealed carry in Florida are the same as those for permitless carry. Acquiring a concealed weapons license allows you to enjoy the benefits, including concealed carry in other states and the ability to purchase and take possession of firearms on the same day instead of waiting three days.

Open Carry Laws in Florida

Concealed carry is allowed under certain circumstances in Florida, but open carry is not. In Florida, gun owners are not legally entitled to openly carry firearms. Doing so can result in serious legal trouble.

Florida Statute 790.053 pertains to open carry in Florida. This law states that it is unlawful for any person to openly carry any firearm on or about his or her person.

You have the right to openly carry a gun on your property under Florida Statute 790.25 (n). However, guests on your property cannot openly carry weapons, even with your permission.

You are also legally allowed to openly carry a firearm to and from a gun range, hunting, fishing, or camping, as long as there are no stops on the way. Additionally, you can openly show a firearm for self-defense purposes.

It's important to understand the very few circumstances where openly carrying a weapon is allowed under Florida law. Failure to follow the law can result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge. So, it's important to be aware of the places you can't carry a firearm.

Red Flag Law in Florida

Judge making a decision on red flag laws in Florida

Among Florida's many gun laws, the red flag law is among the most important. The red flag law allows for temporary confiscation of a firearm from an individual deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

A friend or family member of the dangerous individual can request a risk protection order with the court. Police can also file a Risk Protection Order petition (RPO).

During the hearing for the RPO, attorneys for the law enforcement agency seeking to seize a firearm must present evidence that the “dangerous' individual has committed one or more of the following acts within the previous year:

  • Stalking;
  • Threatening or attempting suicide with a firearm;
  • Threatening or attempting harm on another person with a firearm;
  • Violating a protective order (aka restraining order) and/or
  • Acquiring a firearm or ammunition.

The judge must thoroughly review all testimony and evidence presented in the case. If there is sufficient evidence to prove the individual in question may be a danger to themselves or others, the judge can grant the request, and the individual's firearm(s) will typically be confiscated for a period of one year.

The amount of time the individual must be without their firearm(s) may depend on the case's particular circumstances. However, in the meantime, the individual will not be allowed to possess or purchase firearms.

Gun Laws and Self-Defense

Florida has a well-known law called the “Stand Your Ground Law.” Under this law, and in very specific circumstances, individuals may be entitled to defend themselves with deadly force.

According to Florida Statute 776.013, a person who is rightfully in their dwelling has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground against an individual if they reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent great bodily harm or death or the commission of a forcible felony. Examples of forcible felonies include, but are not limited to, murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, armed robbery, burglary, or arson.

Self-defense involving deadly force, including the use of a firearm, is only permitted where an individual fears imminent harm, death, or the commission of a forcible felony Unless there is a reasonable fear, deadly force is not permitted under Florida law. Use of deadly force, where not necessary, can result in serious criminal charges, including murder.

Firearm Purchases and Ownership

Florida law contains certain requirements for purchasing and owning firearms. Not everyone can purchase, own, or carry firearms within the state. To avoid legal trouble, a firearm should be purchased from legitimate sources.

Generally, you must be at least 21 to purchase a firearm in Florida. Under certain circumstances, individuals at least 18 years of age can own firearms — if they are employed as law enforcement or corrections officers, for example.

You need special permission or a permit to purchase a firearm, including handguns and rifles, in Florida. However, it is unlawful for convicted felons and specific persons with a criminal background to purchase a firearm or have one in their possession at all unless their rights have been restored.

To purchase a firearm in Florida, you must provide the firearms dealer with your information and a government-issued ID. Then, you must wait at least three days before taking possession of your purchased firearm, allowing for the results of a background check.

There is no restriction regarding the type of firearm gun owners in Florida can and cannot purchase and possess. Additionally, there is no limit on the number of firearms gun owners in Florida can own.

Federal vs. State Gun Laws

Book showing Florida gun laws and federal gun laws

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States grants citizens the right to bear arms, meaning a person, as a U.S. citizen or resident, has the right to possess weapons. Gun owners often cite the Second Amendment when fighting against gun restrictions, but gun owners must nonetheless follow federal and state laws.

Federal laws apply to all states, whereas state laws only apply within a specific state. Therefore, gun owners should also familiarize themselves with federal gun laws, as violating these laws can lead to serious legal consequences.

The National Firearms Act (NFA), for example, restricts the sale and possession of certain firearms and accessories, including machine guns, short-barreled or “sawed-off” shotguns, and silencers. To purchase one of the firearms or devices under this act, purchasers must meet certain requirements, including undergoing extensive background checks.

Florida doesn't allow for the purchase of certain firearms under the NFA, including short-barreled shotguns or machine guns. States are permitted to promulgate firearms regulations so long as they do not conflict with federal law.

State firearms laws vary significantly. Therefore, it's critical to know and understand both federal and state gun laws to remain in compliance with these laws.

Common Misconceptions and Clarifications

There are certain misconceptions about Florida's gun laws, specifically as they relate to carry laws. There has been much confusion around recent changes.

One common misconception is that the removal of permit requirements to carry a firearm means anyone is now allowed to carry a firearm. In reality, gun owners must qualify before carrying a weapon. If gun owners do not meet the strict requirements, they are not legally entitled to carry a firearm.

Additionally, there is a misconception that because there is no permit requirement for concealed carry, gun owners can open carry. There is a significant difference between open and concealed carry, and there have been no changes to open carry laws – it remains illegal.

If you have questions or doubts about Florida gun laws, seeking specific answers is helpful. Having a thorough understanding of gun laws can help you avoid potential trouble.

Consulting an Attorney for Assistance

If you're facing criminal gun charges, do not wait to consult with a qualified legal advocate. A Florida weapons charges attorney can help protect your rights and fight for a favorable case result. The Denson Firm is here to help. Contact our firm today to schedule a free phone consultation.

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