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Posted: February 28, 2018

How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Florida is a state where it is not particularly difficult to get a gun. The Giffords Law Center, which is a gun-control advocacy group named after former U.S. House Rep. Gabby Giffords, gives Florida an "F" grade for its gun laws. Below, from the Giffords Law Center, is a look at Florida’s gun laws. 

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In Florida, you do not need a license to own or purchase a handgun, shotgun or rifle, nor do you have to register a gun. Here is what’s required from the state for gun ownership.

How do you get a gun in Florida? 

In Florida, to purchase a gun from a gun store, you must pay $8 and complete the paperwork for a background check. If you pass the background check, you get the gun. If the gun is a rifle or a shotgun, you do not have to wait three days to get it. For a handgun, there is a mandatory three-day “cooling off” period in Florida, one of only 10 states that require any waiting period for the purchase of a gun. There is no federal waiting period required when purchasing a gun. Waiting periods are imposed by states.

Here is what Florida does not do:

Who is prohibited from purchasing a gun in Florida?

Federal law prohibits certain people from purchasing or possessing firearms. Felons, certain domestic abusers, and people with a history of mental illness are generally barred from buying a weapon. In Florida, a person is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm if they:

  • Have been convicted of a felony, or are under 24 years of age and have been convicted of a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult
  • Have been issued a final injunction that is currently in force and effect, restraining that person from committing acts of domestic violence
  • Are a “violent career criminal,” as Florida law defines that term

What is the minimum age to purchase a gun in Florida?

In Florida, a person has to be at least 18 years old to purchase and possess a gun. There are exceptions to that law. Minors are eligible to possess a gun if they are:

  • Engaged in a lawful hunting activity and are at least age 16 or if under age 16, are supervised by an adult
  • Engaged in a lawful marksmanship competition or practice or other lawful recreational shooting activity, and are at least age 16 
  • Transporting an unloaded firearm directly to or from one of the aforementioned events
  • Florida law prohibits dealers from selling or transferring firearms to anyone younger than 18

Can someone who has become a person who would be prohibited from possessing firearms in Florida have their guns taken away?

No, Florida has no law requiring a person who has become a person who would be prohibited from owning weapons in Florida to surrender the weapon, nor is there a law that would allow law enforcement to take that person’s firearms.

If a person is the subject of a court-imposed protective order, then Florida does consider it a violation of that protective order if the person refuses to surrender his or her firearms.

What about a semi-automatic weapon? How tough is it to get those type of weapons? 

In most cases, it’s no tougher to get a semi-automatic rifle than it is to get a handgun. Seven states -- California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning semi-automatic weapons. Minnesota and Virginia regulate semi-automatic weapons. There is no ban on purchasing the weapons in any other state.


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