Some states place limitations on firearm possession and sales. Florida’s firearm restrictions are as follows:
- The Child Access Prevention Law: Florida requires owners to store guns in a place not readily available to minors under 16. Adults who improperly store guns are criminally liable if a child acquires one. Firearms sold in Florida do not have to be accompanied by child-safety locks.
- Juvenile Possession Law: Florida bars possession of handguns by people under 18 years old.
- Juvenile Sale/Transfer Law: This law bars or restricts the sale or transfer of specified guns to youth. Firearms are only allowed in Florida if you are 18 or older.
When Is Gun Possession a Crime?
Gun possession is limited by gun control laws in an effort to ensure the safety of the gun owner and of those around them. Whether it is illegal to possess a gun depends on a few factors like a person’s age, background, type of gun possession, and whether they violate concealed carry laws.
What Are Some Common Violations of Gun Laws?
These are some of the most common gun law violations:
- Unauthorized purchase of a firearm
- Illegal carrying of a gun (especially in public places)
- Minor in possession of a gun
- Publicly discharging a gun or firing it in a prohibited area
- Possessing a gun without authorization or a proper permit (for example, a person who has been convicted of a felony and is no longer allowed to own a gun)
These types of violations are separate from crimes involving guns as weapons (such as assault, homicide, or armed robbery).
What Are the Individual Restrictions on Gun Possession?
Gun possession may be restricted based on various factors, including:
- Age/Type of Gun: Federal law prohibits the sale of a handgun to anyone under age 18. Long guns like rifles and shotguns are not subject to the same restrictions. However, the minimum age for purchasing a handgun in many states is 21 years of age. Each state can implement more strict age requirements, so the law varies by state.
- Background: A person’s background can also make it illegal for them to possess a gun.
Guns cannot be sold to anyone who:
- Has been convicted of or charged with a crime in federal court that carries a possible sentence of over a year in jail (generally, these are felonies)
- Has been convicted or charged in state court with a felony or misdemeanor punishable by more than two years in prison.
- Is a fugitive
- Is known to be addicted to controlled substances (this involves losing control over the use of controlled substances and can sometimes be inferred from recent drug convictions).
- Has been found to be a danger to themselves or others by a court or other lawful authority, or has been involuntarily committed due to drug/alcohol abuse.
- Has been convicted of certain crimes or is under a court order related to domestic violence or mental illness.
- Illegally resides in the U.S.
- Was dishonorably discharged from U.S. Military Service.
In addition to the age requirement, each state can impose stricter background checks on gun owners than the federal government.
Where Can Guns Be Possessed?
Gun possession is prohibited in some places, even for people who can legally own one elsewhere. State law can be more restrictive than federal law.
Gun possession is prohibited by federal law in the following places:
- Federal government facilities
- Post Offices
- In airports and on airplanes (except when the weapon is unloaded, in a checked bag, and the airline is aware of the weapon).
- K-12 school zones (except for those with concealed carry permits issued by the state)
In most states, guns are prohibited in courthouses and other government buildings. However, open carry permit holders’ laws often differ.
Guns are also commonly prohibited in the following areas:
- Alcohol-serving bars or restaurants
- Polling Places
- Daycare Facilities
You can get clarity on Florida firearms laws from a firearms lawyer.
Does Florida Law Require Background Checks?
Dealers must wait three days before selling handguns. During the waiting period, background checks are performed, and a cooling-off period is provided.
Background checks are not required if guns are sold by “private” individuals or gun collectors. Counties may impose a waiting period of 5 days and require background checks for gun show buyers.
Is it Illegal to Carry a Concealed Weapon?
Concealed handguns are not restricted.
Does Florida Require a License to Possess Firearms?
There is no requirement to purchase or own a firearm.
What Are the Restrictions on Specific Types of Firearms?
Certain types of firearms are completely prohibited in some states.
Possessing the following items may be illegal in your state:
- Assault Weapons: These are semi-automatic guns with detachable magazines (e.g., AK-47, M-16)
- “Ghost Guns”: These are firearms assembled from kits or made with 3D printers that are untraceable by law enforcement and often undetectable by metal detectors
- Large Capacity Magazines: Generally, magazines containing more than ten rounds.
- Machine Guns: These are fully automatic firearms that keep firing bullets as long as the trigger is held down
- 50 Caliber Weapons: Only a few states prohibit these
- Silencers: These are used to prevent someone from hearing the sound of gunfire or from seeing the muzzle flash.
What Are the Restrictions on Gun Possession Type?
Gun owners may also be restricted by the way they hold or carry their guns:
- Concealed Carry: Carrying a concealed gun in public can be a crime, depending on your state. Some places do not prohibit concealed carry, but the rest require you to obtain a concealed carry permit first. Permits can be difficult to obtain in some cases.
- Open Carry: Publicly carrying an openly visible gun can pose a problem by intimidating those nearby. About five states prohibit open carry entirely, 15 require some kind of permit, and about 30 allow it without a permit. Florida law makes it illegal to carry a firearm openly.
What Is the Punishment for an Illegal Firearm Possession Conviction?
While the Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms, that right is not absolute. There can be serious legal consequences if you carry a firearm in violation of any of the restrictions mentioned above. In addition, carrying a gun while committing another crime can result in harsher punishments.
Someone convicted of a felony is almost always prohibited from carrying a gun, and being a felon in possession of a firearm carries stiff penalties. It is important to note, however, that most states allow felons to reclaim their gun ownership rights if deemed not to be a danger to public safety, and restoring their rights is not contrary to the public interest.
What if I Am Only Selling a Handgun?
Background checks are required in some states only for handgun purchases.
The following states require private sellers to conduct a background check on their purchasers:
- New Jersey; and
Depending on the jurisdiction, this requirement may vary in Florida.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with Gun Possession Charges?
If you’re unsure of the gun laws specific to your state, if you’ve been charged with illegally possessing a firearm, or if you want to try and get your gun possession rights restored, speaking with a criminal lawyer is usually a good idea. You do not want to take a chance on gun possession charges or gun charges because of the possible penalties and consequences.