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Florida Gun Control Laws

Safety is the primary concern, both for gun owners and the general public. But how do states weigh the balance between the two? Here is a brief introduction to gun control laws in Florida.

Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida

In 2005, Florida passed the nation's first stand your ground law. The case of George Zimmerman's fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin then 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 provides several changes to Florida's gun control laws. Although it doesn't ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, it does outright ban bump-fire stocks, a device that makes semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic ones.

Additionally, the act extends mental health services and regulations and establishes 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.

Code Section

Florida Statutes Section 790.001, et seq.

Illegal Arms

Short-barreled rifle or shotgun, machine gun, bump-fire stocks

Waiting Period

3 days excluding weekends and legal holidays

Who May Not Own

1. Minors (under 21);

2. Convicted felon (or 3 yrs. after sentence or probation fulfilled);

3. Has been convicted or committed for abuse of a controlled substance within last 3 yrs.;

4. Anyone who chronically or habitually abuses alcohol or other substances;

5. Has been adjudicated incapacitated (or 5 yrs. after restoration of capacity);

6. Been committed to mental institution (unless free from disability for 5 yrs.);

7. Person subject to injunction against committing acts of domestic violence.

Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds

Section 790.115: Possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school-sponsored event or on school property

Section 810.095: Trespassing on school property with firearm or other weapon)

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.

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