Are you familiar with the gun laws in Florida and how they affect residents of Miami and other South Florida cities?
Florida Open Carry Laws
The state of Florida does not permit open carry of firearms within its jurisdiction. That means that anyone openly carrying a firearm in public is performing an unlawful act, regardless if they have a permit or not. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however.
Individuals are allowed to openly carry firearms when they are inside their homes or places of business. Those engaged in camping, fishing, hunting or attending shooting practice are also exempt, during the event and while going to and from the activity. Those who are manufacturing or repairing firearms are also exempt from the open carry law, as well as military or law enforcement officers while employed.
Florida Concealed Carry Laws
In order to lawfully carry a handgun in the state of Florida in public, the handgun must be concealed. Those who would like to carry must first complete an application for a license with the state's Department of Agriculture. Once completed, the license is valid within the state jurisdiction and honored for five years. After that period, another license must be completed in order to continue carrying lawfully. In order to obtain a license, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Be a United States citizen
- At least 21 years of age
- Does not have any mental handicap that would prevent safe handling of firearms
- Does not have a convicted felony on record
- Has not been convicted of a violent or drug-related crime in the past three years
- Has not been found guilty of domestic violence
- Has not been convicted of public drunkenness
- Is not under a current restraining order for acts of violence
Permits, Possession, and Exceptions
The state of Florida does not require a permit for the purchase or possession of a handgun. The only permit required by the state is the one related to concealed carry. Individuals can purchase handguns, rifles and shotguns without any licensing or registration, which makes it one of the most lax states in the country in terms of firearm legislation. There are certain exceptions to these laws, which include:
- Convicted felons are not allowed to possess or carry concealed weapons
- Drug addicts, alcoholics, and the mentally ill are all barred from the use, possession, or ownership of a firearm
- It is unlawful to sell a firearm to a minor without their parents' permission
- A minor under the age of 18 is not allowed to possess a firearm, unless it is unloaded and in their place of residence
Stand your Ground Law
The state of Florida employs a “Stand your Ground” law, which means that those who are attacked have no legal duty to retreat from their attacker. If you believe that you are in danger of serious bodily harm or death, you can legally retaliate with lethal force. The state’s Stand your Ground Law was brought into the national spotlight in 2012 and its legality might be challenged in the near future.
The application of the law has been sparse throughout its existence, only invoked a handful of times.