Gun laws and gun control are pressing topics in today’s politically-charged atmosphere. Within just the last few years, Florida has been the location of multiple mass shootings leading to criminal charges. Florida gun laws have been historically accommodating toward firearm ownership – something that remains true today despite opposition from many citizens. In light of recent gun-related tragedies, however, many Americans are asking a serious question: “Are Florida gun laws strict enough?” Peruse the current state laws regarding firearm ownership, carry rules, and other gun laws to form your own opinion on the matter.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement outlines the requirements to purchase a firearm within the state. It cites Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which contains 10 types of people who are ineligible to purchase or possess firearms according to federal law. Most of the 10 categories deal with criminal histories and records of violent crime. Unless you fall into one of the following citizen types, you can buy a gun under federal law (but not necessarily under state law):
1. A convicted felon or the equivalent
2. A fugitive
3. Someone who unlawfully uses, or suffers an addiction to, a controlled substance
4. A person with an adjudicated mental defect or someone involuntarily committed to treatment
5. An illegal immigrant
6. A person who received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military
7. A non-citizen with renounced U.S. citizenship
8. Someone with an active restraining order or other protective order against him/her
9. Anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor
10. A person under indictment for a felony
In addition to these 10 exceptions, Florida law holds three additional restrictions to purchasing a gun in the state. You cannot purchase or carry a gun in Florida if you have a conviction for a crime that would have been a felony if committed by an adult, if you received “Adjudication Withheld” on a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence crime and less than three years have passed since you completed your sentence, or if police recently arrested you for a disqualifying crime the courts have not yet resolved.
If you don’t fall into a disqualifying category, you must fulfill other requirements to legally purchase a firearm in Florida. You must be 21 or older (someone at least 18 can purchase a rifle or shotgun if he/she is a law enforcement officer) and a Florida resident (unless you’re purchasing a long gun instead of a handgun), or a legal permanent resident alien with a valid registration number. You must also complete a firearms training course if you wish to apply for a concealed carry permit.
When gun-related tragedies such as the August 27th fatal shooting at a Jacksonville video game tournament occur, the public wonders whether Florida’s gun laws are strict enough. In this case, a gunman opened fire at the tournament and killed two people. Under Florida law, the gunman would have lawfully been able to carry the weapon into the Jacksonville Landing Complex if he had the proper permits (it is unclear whether this was the case). While stronger event security might be one solution, many are pushing for stricter state gun laws.
As of today, Florida does not require a permit to purchase a firearm. This means qualifying individuals can purchase guns without going through the permitting process beforehand, although background checks are still a requirement. There is also no limit to the number of firearms an individual can purchase in a single transaction. People with concealed carry permits can lawfully carry guns in their vehicles, in state parks, in many restaurants, and more without notifying police officers. Currently, 1,784,395 active concealed carry weapons permits exist in Florida.
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