In this article, we review gun control laws in Florida, including stand your ground laws, public safety laws, who can own guns, and what penalties you might face if arrested on gun charges.
Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida
In 2005, Florida passed the nation's first stand your ground law. Then, the case of George Zimmerman's fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin thrust Florida's new law onto the international stage. The law was the first of its kind to remove the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense. The Florida statute generally allows people to stand their ground instead of retreating if they reasonably believe doing so will "prevent death or great bodily harm."
Other states followed with laws specifically affirming one's right to defend themselves, even outside of their homes and with deadly force if necessary. But gun laws go beyond just so-called stand your ground statutes. Floridians should be aware that federal law also regulates gun ownership, including what kinds of firearms may be owned legally. Additionally, Florida has a 3-day waiting period (excluding weekends and holidays) to purchase a gun. The state has other restrictions that impact the rights and responsibilities of possessing firearms.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act
The Florida public safety bill, SB-7026, was signed into law on March 9, 2017. This is known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (Douglas High Act) and 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 outright ban bump-fire stocks, a device that makes semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic ones.
Additionally, the act extended mental health services and regulations and established funding for school security. The safety measures include programs that allow sheriffs to appoint designated school employees (non-teaching staff) as "guardians" who are required to receive firearm and safety training prior to being armed in the schools.
Overview of Gun Control Laws in Florida
The laws regulating gun ownership and use vary significantly by state. Florida's gun control laws are summarized in the table below.
Relevant Statutes (Laws)
|Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 790, Weapons and Firearms, Sections 790.001 through 790.401
- Section 790.01 -Unlicensed 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 790.221 - Possession of short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or machine gun
- 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 790.27 - Alteration or removal of firearm serial number or possession
- Section 790.31 - Armor-piercing or exploding ammunition
- Section 790.222 - Bump-fire stocks prohibited
- Section 790.0655 - Purchase and delivery of firearms; mandatory waiting period
- Section 790.25 - Lawful ownership, possession, and use of firearms and other weapons
- Section 790.064 - Firearm possession and firearm ownership disability
- Section 790.053 - Open carrying of weapons
- Section 790.115 - Possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school
|The following weapons and accessories are illegal in Florida:
- Short-barreled rifles
- Short-barreled shotguns
- Machine guns
- Firearms with serial numbers altered or removed
- Armor-piercing or exploding bullets or exploding bullet loaded in a handgun
- Dragon's breath shotgun shells, bolo shells, or flechette shells loaded in a firearm
- Bump-fire stocks
|Florida has a mandatory 3-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. The period does not include weekends and holidays. The period will extend past 3 days if a background check is not completed. The waiting period does not apply when:
- A concealed weapons permit holder purchases a firearm
- The transaction is a trade-in of another firearm
- The purchaser is buying a rifle or shotgun and has successfully completed a hunter safety course
- The purchaser is buying a rifle or shotgun and 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 are under 24 years of age and have been adjudicated delinquent for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult
- Have an injunction restraining order after committing acts of domestic violence or a risk protection order that prohibits them from possessing firearms
- Are considered a violent career criminal under Florida law
- Have been adjudicated mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution
- Are under 18. However, they may possess a firearm if lawfully hunting or with adult supervision
||Florida does not require a permit or license to own a gun.
Concealed Carry License Required?
|A concealed carry license is required to carry a concealed firearm in Florida.
Open Carried Allowed?
|Open carry is illegal in Florida.
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
- Not be suffering from a physical infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a weapon
- Not have a felony conviction
- Not have been found guilty of a drug crime
- 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
- 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 3 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. Open carry of a firearm is a second-degree misdemeanor.
- A third-degree felony carries up to 5 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 possess any firearm at a school school-sponsored event or on the property of any school, school bus, or school bus stop or to exhibit a firearm in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner within 1,000 feet of a school's property during school hours or a school-sponsored event. A third-degree felony carries up to 5 years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including 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 state law(s) you are researching.
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 since federal law also influences gun control issues. If you want to understand your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner, or if you have a criminal case involving guns, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Florida.