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Florida Gun Control Laws

Laws related to gun control remain controversial whether in Congress or at the state legislature.

In recent years, the state of Florida has been a flashpoint. The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 drew attention to Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018 represents the deadliest high school massacre in the U.S.

As in other states, Florida lawmakers must try to balance concerns about gun violence and gun safety with the rights of gun owners. Given its limited regulation of firearms, most outside observers see the state as one that is more favorable to gun rights.

Federal Firearms Law

Even though most gun regulations happen at the state level, key federal gun laws apply nationwide.

Federal laws license gun dealers. They also limit the ownership of certain dangerous weapons and accessories such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles, and silencers. For decades, federal law has prohibited certain persons, like convicted felons and drug users, from possessing firearms.

Florida Gun Control Laws

Florida gun laws are less restrictive than many other states. The state does not ban assault weapons or limit magazine capacity. It does not require those buying a firearm to first obtain a purchase permit or firearm license.

However, state law does include a three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. After the Parkland shooting, the state also passed new gun control laws.

Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida

In 2005, Florida passed the nation's first stand-your-ground law. In 2012, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager. The case and Zimmerman's subsequent acquittal thrust Florida's self-defense law onto the international stage, even though the stand-your-ground law was not the focus of the case itself.

The stand-your-ground law was the first of its kind to remove the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense. The Florida statute allows people to stand their ground instead of retreating if they reasonably believe doing so will prevent death, great bodily harm, or the imminent commission of a forcible felony offense.

Florida's law also provides immunity from criminal prosecution and civil actions for the person claiming self-defense. If raised in a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden shifts to the state to show by clear and convincing evidence that the actions of the suspect (or person on trial) did not amount to self-defense.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was signed into law on March 9, 2017. It was named for the site of the tragic Parkland school shooting which occurred on February 14, 2017.

The legislation provided several changes to Florida's gun control laws. Although it did not ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, it did ban bump stocks, devices that make semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic ones.

In addition, the act extended mental health services and included a red flag law that allows courts to temporarily remove firearms from those at risk of harm to themselves or others. The law also allows sheriffs to appoint designated school employees (non-teaching staff) as "guardians" who are required to complete a firearm and safety training course before being armed in the schools.

Florida Concealed Carry Law

Before 2023, Florida required a person who wanted to carry a concealed firearm to complete an application for a license. You needed to apply online or in person, pass a criminal background check, and have proof you completed firearms safety training. This process prevented the issuance of a license to a person prohibited by law from possessing and carrying firearms. It also aided law enforcement in the field.

In 2023, Florida enacted a permitless carry law. Also known as constitutional carry, the new law allows a person who does not have a Florida concealed weapons license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. Someone who engages in permitless carry must otherwise be eligible to receive a state license or they violate the law.

Despite the leniency of the law, many individuals still apply for the actual state license. They do so to qualify for reciprocity in other states. You can find more details about the application process by visiting the website of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

As with other states, Florida law provides limitations on the carrying of firearms in certain locations. Whether you are a gun license holder or not, the following locations are off-limits with a gun:

  • School facilities and administration buildings
  • Colleges and universities
  • A place of nuisance (e.g. a house of prostitution or illegal gambling den)
  • A police station, sheriff's office, or highway patrol station
  • Any detention facility, prison, or jail
  • Any courthouse or courtroom (except a judge may order otherwise)
  • Any polling place
  • Any meetings of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district
  • Any meetings of the state legislature or one of its committees
  • Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms
  • Career centers
  • Portions of liquor establishments devoted to consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Airports
  • Hospitals providing mental health services
  • Places prohibited by federal law

Depending on the location, there may be exceptions for law enforcement officers or designated security officers.

Overview of Gun Control Laws in Florida

The laws regulating gun ownership and use vary significantly by state. Links to Florida's key gun control laws appear in the table below.

Relevant Florida Gun Statutes (Laws)

Florida Constitution, Article I

Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 790, Weapons and Firearms, Sections 790.001 through 790.401

  • Section 790.001 -Unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms
  • Section 790.01 - Carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms
  • Section 790.053 - Open carrying of weapons
  • Section 790.06 - License to carry concealed weapon or firearm
  • Section 790.064 - Firearm possession and firearm ownership disability
  • Section 790.065 - Sale and delivery of firearms
  • Section 790.0655 - Purchase and delivery of firearms; mandatory waiting period; exceptions; penalties
  • Section 790.07 - Persons engaged in criminal offense, having weapons
  • Section 790.115 - Possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school-sponsored event or on school property prohibited; penalties; exceptions
  • Section 790.17 - Furnishing weapons to minors or persons of unsound mind
  • Section 790.174 - Safe storage of firearms required
  • Section 790.221 - Possession of short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or machine gun
  • Section 790.222 - Bump fire stocks prohibited
  • Section 790.23 - Felons and delinquents; possession of firearms, ammunition, or electric weapons or devices unlawful
  • Section 790.233 - Possession of firearm or ammunition prohibited when a person is subject to an injunction against committing acts of domestic violence, stalking, or cyberstalking
  • Section 790.235 - Possession of firearm or ammunition by violent career criminal
  • Section 790.25 - Lawful ownership, possession, and use of firearms and other weapons
  • Section 790.251- Protection of the right to keep and bear arms in motor vehicles for self-defense and other lawful purposes
  • Section 790.27 - Alteration or removal of firearm serial number or possession
  • Section 790.31 - Armor-piercing or exploding ammunition
  • Section 790.33- Field of regulations of firearms and ammunition preempted
  • Section 790.401 - Risk protection orders

Illegal Arms

The following weapons and accessories are illegal in Florida, unless possession or ownership is compliant with federal law:

  • Short-barreled rifles
  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Machine guns
  • Firearms with serial numbers altered or removed
  • Armor-piercing or exploding bullets loaded in a handgun
  • Dragon's breath shotgun shells, bolo shells, or flechette shells loaded in a firearm
  • Bump-fire stocks

Waiting Period

Florida has a mandatory three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm from a licensed dealer. The period does not include weekends and holidays. The period will extend past three days if a background check is not completed. The waiting period does not apply when:

  • A concealed weapons or concealed carry permit holder purchases a firearm
  • The transaction is a trade-in of another firearm
  • The purchaser is buying a rifle or shotgun and has completed a hunter safety course
  • The purchaser is buying a rifle or shotgun, is exempt from the hunter safety course requirements, and holds a valid Florida hunting license
  • A law enforcement officer or correctional officer is purchasing a rifle or shotgun

Who May Not Own

A person may not own a firearm if they:

  • Have been convicted of a felony, or have been adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult and are under 24 years of age
  • Have a final injunction currently in force restraining them from committing acts of domestic violence, stalking, or cyberstalking
  • Are considered a violent career criminal under Florida law
  • Have been adjudicated mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution
  • Have been ordered under a risk protection order (red flag law) not to own or possess firearms
  • Are under 18. However, a minor may possess a firearm if lawfully hunting or with adult supervision

License Required?

Florida does not require a permit or license to own a gun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

Florida does not require a permit or license to carry a concealed firearm in Florida. However, you must be legally able to possess a gun and there are location restrictions.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry is illegal in Florida under most circumstances.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To obtain a concealed weapons permit, a person must:

  • Be a resident and citizen of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States
  • Be 21 years of age or older 
  • Be at least 18 years of age if you are in the American armed forces or a veteran who was honorably discharged
  • Not be suffering from a physical infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a weapon
  • Not have a felony conviction, unless your civil and firearms rights have been restored
  • Not have been found guilty of a drug crime in the last three years
  • Not have been committed for the abuse of a controlled substance
  • Not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages or other substances to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired.
  • Desire a legal means to carry a concealed weapon for lawful self-defense
  • Demonstrate competence with a firearm by completing an approved safety course or otherwise qualifying under Florida law
  • Not have been adjudicated an incapacitated person
  • Not have been committed to a mental institution
  • Not have had an adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless three years have elapsed since the conditions set by the court have been fulfilled, or the record has been expunged
  • Not have been issued an injunction that is currently in force and effect and that restrains the applicant from committing acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violence
  • Not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm by any other provision of Florida or federal law

Machine Gun Laws

Florida prohibits any person from owning or possessing a machine gun that is, or may readily be made, operable, except for antique firearms or firearms that are permitted under federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

Most possession of illegal firearm offenses are third-degree felonies, but illegal possession of a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or machine gun is a second-degree felony. unlawful open carry of a firearm is a second-degree misdemeanor.

  • A third-degree felony carries up to five years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine
  • A second-degree felony carries up to 15 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine
  • A second-degree misdemeanor carries up to 60 days imprisonment and up to a $500 fine

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is a third-degree felony to trespass while in possession of any firearm upon school property. A third-degree felony carries up to five years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.

It is a second-degree misdemeanor for someone who can legally carry a concealed handgun to carry a concealed firearm into a school or to a school event not related to firearms. A second-degree misdemeanor carries up to 60 days imprisonment and up to a $500 fine.

Red Flag Law?

Yes. Florida enacted a red flag law in 2018. Under the law, a law enforcement officer or a law enforcement agency can petition a court for an order. The petition must allege that the person poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others by having or purchasing a firearm or ammunition. The court must find clear and convincing evidence to issue such a risk protection order. An order can remove firearms; ban new purchases; and last up to one year.

Universal Background Checks?

No. Florida does not regulate the private sales of firearms. Therefore, such transactions do not require background checks.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. Florida law allows the use or threat of deadly force when a person reasonably believes such conduct is part of necessary self-defense to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or the imminent commission of a forcible felony. In such situations, the person has no duty to retreat and may stand their ground so long as they are not engaged in criminal activity and are in a place they have a right to be.

Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

A Note About Second Amendment Rights After Bruen

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important gun rights decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In striking down a New York concealed gun license law, the Court found that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right to carry a gun in public for self-defense.

In Bruen, the Court issued a new "historical test" for court review of gun regulations that burden the right to bear arms. The Court rejected a prior test used by courts to first assess whether a regulation burdens the right to bear arms and then second, conduct a means-end balancing test of the government's stated public safety reasons for the law. Now, courts must assess whether a regulation burdens the right to bear arms and then look for similar laws that existed at the time of the nation's founding to justify the law.

After Bruen, gun owners have challenged several pre-existing gun laws. Mixed results from the courts have made this area of the law quite volatile. Recently, a panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the federal ban on firearm possession by convicted felons. The Eleventh Circuit covers the states of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Research the Law

Florida Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Have Questions About Florida's Gun Control Laws? An Attorney Can Help

Florida laws regulating firearms can be complex, especially given the interplay of state and federal law. If you want to understand your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner, or if have a criminal case involving guns, consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Florida.

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