Man purchasing a gun

Legally Becoming a Gun Owner in Florida

Gun ownership is a hotly debated issue dating back to the origins of our country, however, the right to bear arms is included in our Constitution and many people still choose to exercise that right. People decide to become gun owners for many reasons, such as self-defense and a sense of protection or because they like to hunt. To obtain a gun and become a gun owner legally, there are some steps that must be followed and qualifications that must be met, and some people cannot own guns at all.

Who Can Purchase Firearms in Florida?

Due to the dangers and liabilities associated with guns, the process to become a gun owner in Florida can seem stringent and lengthy. However, following the steps as accurately and completely as possible is the best way to avoid any trouble later on. Here are the requirements to purchase a gun in Florida:

  • Age: For someone to be able to purchase a firearm in the state of Florida, they must be at least 21 years of age. The only exception to this rule is for police officers, correctional officers, and service members, who can legally purchase rifles and shotguns at the age of 18.
  • Residency: Anyone looking to purchase a handgun in Florida must be a legal resident of the state with the ability to prove so. However, an exception is made for long guns, which can be purchased by people with legal residency in other states as long as they meet the relevant requirements for the state in which they live.
  • Aliens: Aliens with legal permanent residency in Florida can purchase guns if they have a valid alien registration number. Aliens visiting the state of Florida with a permanent residency elsewhere must provide an I-94 form (border crossing number).

Once a firearm has been legally purchased, there is a waiting period of three business days before it will be delivered. Each county and city in Florida has the ability to extend this waiting period to 5 days. Any amount of firearms can be purchased in one transaction, and a transaction is only complete when the firearms dealer has signed off on an ATF Form (4473).

Do You Need Special Licensing or Registration to Purchase Firearms in Florida?

No specific licensing is required to purchase a firearm in the state of Florida. However, if someone is purchasing a gun with the intent to conceal carry it, they do need a license. Anyone looking to conceal carry must apply for and receive a Concealed Weapon License. In order to receive this license, one must:

  • Make an appointment at their local Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services office or a Florida tax collector’s office
  • Bring a picture ID, a copy of a certificate or training document proving they know how to use a firearm
  • Bring $97 as payment for the license
  • Complete the application form in the office at the appropriate station
  • Have their photograph and fingerprints taken
  • Swear and confirm that they have been provided with a copy of Chapter 790 of the Florida statutes and that they understand its provisions.

In addition, firearms in Florida do not need to be registered. It is actually illegal for the government or anyone else to keep a documented list of firearms that are publicly owned or the people who own them, as stated in the Florida statute.

Where Can Firearms Be Purchased in Florida?

The state of Florida allows firearms to be purchased from both firearm dealers and private parties. Anyone looking to sell guns as a job must obtain a Federal Firearms License. The requirements to receive a Federal Firearms License include:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • 21 years old
  • No felony convictions
  • No drug use, even marijuana in states that have legalized it
  • No dishonorable discharges from the Army
  • No arrest warrants
  • No ongoing criminal cases

One of the only restrictions placed on firearm dealers in the state of Florida is that they must adhere to the 3-day waiting period before providing customers with the firearms they have purchased.

Firearm sales or transfers between private parties are also somewhat lenient in Florida. Someone who is unlicensed or not a dealer of firearms can transfer them to another person who is not required to have a license. However, it is illegal to do so if either party does not live within the state. It is also illegal for an unlicensed individual to sell a firearm to someone they have reason to believe would be prohibited from purchasing one because of federal or state laws. If a gun is sold to such a person, the transaction is illegal, and both parties can face legal consequences. Although it is not legally required, many people choose to file a bill of sale when selling a firearm so that they can prove who they sold it to in the event the firearm is stolen or involved in a crime.

Who is Not Allowed to Own a Gun in Florida?

There are laws in place at both the federal and state levels to prevent certain individuals from gaining possession of firearms. These laws are in place for two reasons: to prevent violence and to punish criminals. Federally speaking, a person would be prohibited from gun ownership if they:

  • Have a felony conviction
  • Have been convicted of certain domestic violence crimes that are classified as misdemeanors
  • Have court orders due to domestic violence cases or grave mental illnesses

The state of Florida does not allow people to purchase or possess firearms if they:

  • Have any felony convictions or if they are younger than 24 and have been convicted of a crime that would be a felony if committed by someone older than 24
  • Have received a final injunction that is still in effect and intended to prevent that person from continuing to commit domestic violence
  • Are considered a violent career criminal under Florida law, which essentially means they have committed multiple felonies in a short amount of time
  • Have been legally considered mentally unwell (conserved people, prior mental institution stays, etc.)
  • Are under a protection order that specifically states they cannot possess or attempt to possess a firearm for the duration of the order

Florida recently legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Because marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in Florida, people who use it (even legally for medical purposes) cannot ship, receive, or possess a firearm. It is also illegal to sell a firearm to anyone who uses controlled substances.

What Happens if Someone is Caught with a Gun They Shouldn’t Have?

If someone is caught possessing or using a gun in an illegal manner in Florida, they can expect severe consequences. The consequences for such an act depend on the exact circumstances surrounding the crime as well as the nature of the crime, however, some of the potential charges include:

  • 3rd degree felony charges for carrying a concealed firearm without a license. 3rd degree felony convictions can lead to a prison sentence of up to 5 years, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for improper exhibition of a firearm, which is when someone uses a firearm in a manner that is careless or threatening.
  • Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for possession of a firearm by someone who is a convicted felon.

Such charges have enhanced penalties if the weapon in question was used during a crime that had been commissioned:

  • If the person accused possessed a firearm, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years will be given
  • If that weapon was fired, the mandatory minimum sentence will be increased to 20 years
  • If the discharge of the weapon resulted in someone becoming injured or dying, the mandatory minimum sentence will be increased to 25 years in prison

Contact an Attorney Today

If you have been accused of illegally possessing a firearm or if you have concerns about whether a purchase or sale you made was legal, contact Jason K.S. Porter today. With approximately 100 years of combined experience providing quality criminal defense to clients facing an array of different charges, we help all of our clients face their legal matters with confidence. We understand that there is a person behind every charge, and we listen to our clients with empathy and compassion. Contact us today at (904) 701-0591 or via our contact page.