America is in the middle of a country wide debate right now about gun control laws. All you have to do to see it is log into Facebook and you can see both sides going at it about stricter gun laws vs current gun laws. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is important to understand your state laws as far as the right to own guns, and where you can carry them. Being caught with a gun in an area where they are prohibited could be seen as a criminal offense, and this is not a good time for a gun related criminal offense, even if it is just accidently carrying it in a place by mistake. So with this article, we hope to give a quick guide to Florida gun laws.
What You Can Own
You do not require any form of permit to own a handgun, rifle, or a shotgun. However, a permit is required to conceal carry a handgun outside of the home. While you do not need a permit to own any of these weapons, you might be subject to a background check at the time of purchasing one, and have a three day wait period in some instances. Machine guns, marked as firearms designed to fire automatically, are illegal to own without the proper permits and authority of the state. If you are a minor, convicted felon, or accused of a felony, shop owners will not be allowed to sell firearms to you unless you have had your civil rights restored. In the case of antique weapons, being any weapon created before 1918, requires ammo that ceased manufacturing past the age of 1918, or is a replica of such a weapon, no permit or restrictions apply to these weapons.
Open Carry and Conceal Carry
One of the most important aspects that people worry about is carrying guns in public, therefore we will start there. There are two different ways of carrying weapons in public, open carry and concealed carry. Their definitions are pretty self explanatory, open carry means carrying a weapon in plain sight, while concealed means having it hidden from view. In the state of Florida, open carry is pretty much prohibited outside of law enforcement and security purposes. Concealed carry on the other hand is widely permitted, as long as you obtain a carry permit, with a few exceptions. You can only conceal carry handguns, and can not carry them in most government and educational buildings. Universities do allow concealed carrying of other nonlethal weapons such as a tazer. You can also carry a handgun in your vehicle, as long as it is properly secured, meaning you can have it in the glove box (locked or unlocked), a case, bag, or similar container. A recent law passed, also makes it impossible to be fired from a job for having a firearm in your vehicle, as long as you follow the state law mentioned above.
State law also recognizes carry permits obtained in any state that will also recognize carry permits obtained in Florida. So if you come to Florida on vacation with your carry permit, and someone from Florida can do the same in your state, you are within legal bounds to conceal carry. You are also not required to reveal you are carrying a concealed weapon in the state of Florida.
Castle and Stand Your Ground
Now that you know what you can carry, where you can carry it, and how, it is important to know when they can be used legally. The most basic laws that everyone knows is that they can be used for hunting and at a gun range. When you conceal carry though, you tend to do it for personal protection. Can you legally use it for protection though? What happens if you get in a situation where you have to use it? This is where the Castle Doctrine and the Stand your Ground laws come into effect. The Castle Doctrine covers your home defense, meaning if someone breaks into your home and you feel you are at risk of physical harm, you may take forceful, including lethal, action to protect yourself using any legal firearm. The Stand your Ground law is the same premise, only away from the home. If you are legally carrying a concealed firearm, and you are being assaulted, you have a legal right to use lethal force to protect yourself. Just be warned, it has to be a situation where non-lethal action is not possible.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being charged with possession of a firearm when you were within legal bounds, or you unknowingly brought a firearm into a restricted area. Daytona Beach criminal defense attorney Kip Miller can help defend you in the court of law.