The horrific Orlando nightclub shooting and other recent Florida gun issues have again raised the topic of gun rights and laws in the state, nation, and the rest of the world. A proposed open-carry gun law in Florida was recently dismissed by state lawmakers, but the bill and other recent headlines have reopened the legal discussion surrounding firearms. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about Florida’s gun laws and statistics.
Florida Gun Laws
Gun laws significantly vary from state to state. In general, Florida gun laws are governed by Statute 790.001, which states:
- Short-barreled rifles or shotguns and machine guns are illegal in the state of Florida.
- The waiting period to purchase a gun is 3 days excluding weekends and legal holidays.
- People who cannot own a gun in Florida: Minors under the age of 21, convicted felons (or 3 years after sentence or probation fulfilled), anyone convicted or committed for drug abuse within the previous three years, anyone known to chronically or habitually abuses alcohol or other substances, anyone known to chronically or habitually abuses alcohol or other substances, anyone who has been committed to a mental institution (unless free from disability for 5 years), and anyone subject to injunction against committing acts of domestic violence.
- It is a felony (790.115, 810.095) to possess a firearm on or near school grounds.
Florida 10-20-Life Law
In spite of the relative ease with which firearms can be legally purchased in the state of Florida, Florida’s gun crime laws are particularly tough. The Florida Legislature has enacted a severe punishment for those who commit crimes with guns. This is known as the 10-20-Life Law.
Under the 10-20-Life Law, a criminal defendant will be subject to the following minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes:
- 10 years for possession of a gun while committing a crime
- 20 years for firing a gun during the commission of a crime, even if no one was hit by the bullet
- 25 years to life if a person dies or is seriously injured as a result of the use of a firearm during the crime
Sentences under Florida’s 10-20-Life Law are minimum mandatory sentences. A minimum mandatory sentence requires the person serving the sentence to serve the entire sentence without any opportunity for any form of early release. The harshness of Florida’s 10-20-Life Law makes it absolutely critical that you hire an attorney with experience handling gun crimes and weapon offenses. As former prosecutors, we have prosecuted hundreds of gun and weapon cases.
Can You Own an Assault Rifle in Florida?
Whether you are a collector or a general gun enthusiast, Florida is an ideal state. That’s because in the state of Florida there are no restrictions on owning an assault weapon or multiple assault weapons. The main restrictions that you face in owning an assault weapon are similar to the general gun requirements.
Is Florida an Open Carry State?
It is against the law in the state of Florida to openly carry a weapon. Individuals are allowed to carry weapons openly for self-defense purposes. For this purpose, individuals are generally allowed to have items like chemical sprays, non-lethal stun guns, and dart-firing stun guns. If you do not have an open carry permit, you can still carry firearms in places like a private motor vehicle, your residence, or your place of business. You can have a gun on you when you are going, engaging in, or returning from a camping, hunting, or fishing trip. You may also travel with a firearm as long as it is not in your manual possession.
Gun License Requirements
In order to get a gun license, the individual must be a United States resident who is older than 21 years old. They cannot have any convictions or suspended sentences for drug offenses, domestic violence, or violent crimes. In some cases, a conviction that is older than three years old will not prevent you from getting a weapon. According to Florida’s laws, you are also not allowed to have any restraining orders due to violence, chronic drinking problems, or an intent to use the weapon for other than self-defense.
The Use of Deadly Force: Defensive Gun Use
Florida was the first state in the nation to adopt the now infamous Stand Your Ground policy. In this state, people can use deadly or non-deadly force in certain situations. They are allowed to use deadly force against someone else if they believe that it will prevent severe injuries or death to themselves or someone else. Deadly force can be used against crimes like discharging a bomb, burglary, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing of a destructive device, aggravated battery, robbery, kidnapping, home invasion, aggravated stalking, murder, car-jacking, treason, manslaughter, arson, and sexual battery.
Recent Florida Gun Law News
Beyond the country’s largest mass shooting at Orlando nightclub, Pulse, two recent cases in Florida have also continued the discussion regarding firearm restrictions in the state. A gun advocate was shot by her young son as she drove him in her pickup truck, sparking outcries from those who wish to rethink gun laws in the state and nation. Another recent case involves a man, who had been previously convicted of shooting and killing a friend’s pregnant wife after spinning a loaded gun around his finger, who was recently found to shoot a celebratory bullet in the air on his birthday. These cases all sparked debate amongst Floridians and the rest of the nation on whether or not lawmakers should heighten gun laws.
The open-carry bill recently proposed by lawmakers was shot down by the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. The bill would have allowed the nearly 1.5 million Floridians with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry guns in most public places.
United States Gun Owner Statistics
- More than a third of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun—24% said they owned a gun, and 13% said someone else in their household did.
- Between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by nearly half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people.
- A Pew Research Center survey found 50 percent of people said it is more important to control gun ownership and 47% said it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.
- The same survey found that Americans strongly support a variety of specific gun control measures, including expanded background checks (85%), laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns (79%), and the creation of a federal database to track all gun sales (70%). A smaller majority (57%) support a ban on assault-style weapons.
- American Journal of Epidemiology similarly found that “persons with guns in the home were at greater risk of dying from a homicide in the home than those without guns in the home.” This study determined that the presence of guns in the home increased an individual’s risk of death by homicide by 90 percent.
Federal Laws on Gun Control
Federal law, specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), also regulates gun possession with both the National Firearms Act and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The NFA imposes a tax on manufacturing and transferring guns. The act also requires all firearms to be registered with the Secretary of the Treasury. The Firearm Owners Protection Act amended the National Firearms Act to better define the use of “silencers” in addition to a firearm and to prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns. The Brady Act mandates federal background checks for all gun purchases from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer—unless an exception applies.
Contact Clark Law With Your Questions About Gun Laws and Statistics
If you’ve been accused of a gun or weapon offense, you need a skilled and aggressive attorney who will protect your rights.
As former prosecutors, we have years of experience with gun and weapon offenses. We understand that there are two sides to every gun or weapon offense story. Our experience as prosecutors gives us the experience necessary to review the specific facts of your case, explain to you the legal process, and advance the best possible defense for your case.
We represent adults, juveniles, and first-time offenders facing gun and weapon charges.
Contact Clark Law today regarding your gun or weapon offense at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We are available 24/7.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.