Is Florida Really The Gunshine State? | regular guy guns

As has been recently discussed, there’s a very good chance that the great State of Florida will get some form of permitless firearms carry signed into law in the current legislative session. As of this writing, the Florida House has passed the permitless carry bill. We now wait for the Florida Senate. Of course, since Florida was and may still be an electoral battleground state, the usual histrionics from the harridans has ensued. Much like it did in 1987 when Florida became the first major state to institute a shall-issue concealed weapons permit scheme, the mainstream media is predicting the state will be knee-deep in blood, the Wild West, and that sort of thing.

Interestingly enough, the 1987 adoption of a statewide and state-managed shall-issue permit scheme is what led to Florida getting the moniker The Gunshine State

Florida’s adoption of the shall-issue concept, where firearm carry permits are issued based solely on an objective set of concrete criteria, led the way for the bulk of US States to adopt similar schemes. The remaining states, i.e. the usual suspects of New York, California, etc, are being dragged kicking and screaming into compliance as a result of the 2022 Bruen decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yes, Florida led the way – the maximum legally tolerated interference in the right to carry a firearm outside of the home is basically the Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearm License system. Since the adoption of the scheme, many states have gone further, doing away with the requirement for a permit to carry a handgun, i.e. Constitutional Carry.


Florida, being Florida, has a mere “permitless concealed carry” bill up for consideration. Governor DeSantis says he will sign it, although he has stated a preference for a real Constitutional (i.e. concealed and open carry without a permit) Carry bill. Some have argued that the Gunshine State has lost it’s mojo in this regard.

In some ways, they are correct. Yes, Florida has it’s own variety of gun control laws, ironically making it one of the most restrictive states out of the “red states”.

Gun Control Laws In Florida

Of course, being a state in the United States, Florida, in a legal sense, has to comply with federal gun control laws, such as:

  • All people who buy a firearm at retail have to undergo a background check. In Florida’s case, the check is performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which maintains a web portal similar to the federal NICS interface. The FDLE system queries the same federal databases as NICS, in addition to state systems as well.

  • Purchasers must meet minimum age requirements to purchase a handgun or a long gun. The federal standard is 18 for long guns, 21 for handguns. Florida is 21 and up across the board. More on that in a minute.

  • NFA items are transferred and dealt with in compliance with federal law. Nothing new there.

However, Florida has it’s own set of laws that exceed the Federal norm, sometimes in strage ways. In a very real sense, Florida has regressed in certain aspects in terms of gun laws since 1987. Most of the more egregious ones were passed during the “overemotional” phase after the Parkland debacle. This was by design, since the progressive wing saw an opening, and took it. Coupled with then-Governor Rick Scott running for Senate, and the conditions were right to ram through the legislation. Florida’s laws span the gamut from age restrictions, to red flag laws, and more. The laws include:

Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, aka the Red Flag Law

One of the laws passed after the Parkland mess, Florida’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, aka the “red flag law”, is admittedly a weak variant of the egregious concept. Unlike in other red flag states where it seems a neighborhood dog can petition for the confiscation of someone’s firearms with no due process, Florida only allows law enforcement agencies and officers to be the petitioners. Since the order is granted without trial, due process is circumvented. The respondent, aka the subject of the order, has to prove their innocence. In normal court proceedings, it falls to the accuser to furnish evidence of guilt. The ostensible concept is to disarm someone who may be a threat to themselves or others, but of course it’s open to abuse, even in this limited scope.

Florida’s Extreme Risk Protection Law at Online Sunshine

Note: It appears Online Sunshine has SSL issues. I’m not their developer, so it is what it is.

Bump Stocks Are Banned By Law In Florida

Currently, as of March 2023, bump stocks are illegal in every state except for Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Though Donald Trump’s 2018 Executive Order reclassified bump stocks as post-86 machine guns and is federally binding, the Fifth Circuit’s recent ruling in favor of Central Texas Gunworks and Michael Cargill means the order is currently vacated in those states. The executive order will likely be vacated across the nation soon.

However, several states, including Florida, have banned the devices by law, and not executive order. Florida’s law, of course, was passed during the few weeks of emotional outbursts after Parkland. Despite the fact the Parkland animal didn’t use a bump stock…

The Florida law by name prohibits the transfer and possession of bump stocks. Legally, even if the federal order is nullified, one cannot have a bump stock in the Gunshine State. Where the law gets nefarious is in it’s vagueness.

As used in this section, the term “bump-fire stock” means a conversion kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device used to alter the rate of fire of a firearm to mimic automatic weapon fire or which is used to increase the rate of fire to a faster rate than is possible for a person to fire such semiautomatic firearm unassisted by a kit, a tool, an accessory, or a device.

By the text, other methods of accelerated rapid fire are potentially illegal in Florida. The law is vague enough that those who manufacture and sell binary triggers, such as Franklin Armory, will not ship to Florida. Though no one has been prosecuted for having a binary trigger in Florida, the manufacturers and FFLs don’t want to take a chance, since they could be held liable for “importing” such a device.

The law is sufficiently vague enough that if challenged, it will be struck down, especially when the federal ban on bump stocks is rescinded.

Nonetheless, it is in effect now, and one can be charged with a felony for possessing a piece of plastic or (potentially) a semi-automatic trigger that goes bang when pressed, bang when released.

Florida’s Bump Stock Law at Online Sunshine

You Have To Be 21 Years Of Age Or Older To Purchase A Gun At Retail

One of the most ironic restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms in this nation is the federal prohibition on selling a handgun via an FFL to anyone under the age of 21. Long guns are OK to sell to people aged 18 and up, though there is a push to make the age 21 and up for everything.

Florida took it one step further (of course) in the wake of the Parkland incident. As part of the aforementioned flurry of poorly-drafted laws, the benchmark age to acquire a firearm from an FFL in the State of Florida is 21.

Of course, armed agents of the government who are over 18 and under 21 are exempt.

Under-21s/over-18s can still legally engage in a private sale, but one risks acquiring worn hardware, dealing with unscrupulous sellers, and the overall hassle of having to make arrangements to meet, test, and issue payment.

Legal challenges exist to this law, and are currently worming their way through the courts.

Florida’s Firearm Purchase Age Limits at FDLE

There Is A Waiting Period In Florida To Buy A Gun At Retail

If the agitprop of the opposition were to be true, Florida would be this amazing place where everything from .22LR single-shot youth rifles to machine pistols to 120mm mortars were sold over-the-counter in flea markets and gun shops alike with no FDLE or NICS inquiry required.

It would be astounding. Walk into shop, cash (or crypto) in hand, buy a Heckler & Koch MP7A1, some ammo, leave shop 3 minutes later. Ta da.

But alas, we live in a nation where gun control laws were written by hormonal harridans and racist liars, so in Florida, we’re stuck with a truly ridiculous mandatory waiting period for a firearm transfer to happen. The minium in Florida to purchase a firearm at retail is a waiting period of 3 days, or the successful completion of an FDLE inquiry, whichever takes longer. As most FDLE inquiries complete in minutes, the wait is 3 days, excluding weekends and holidays.

So, if say FDLE is backed up and your PROCEED result comes back at the close of business on Monday? You can’t pick up your gun til Friday.

Supposedly it’s a “cooling off” period to prevent rash purchases where hypothetically someone purchases a firearm at 12 PM with the intent of shooting someone at 12:07 PM. Of course, studies show this is complete bunk, so here we are.

However, there are exemptions:

  • Concealed Weapon Or Firearm License holders can take their new acquisitions home after the FDLE check comes back in the affirmative.

  • Anyone trading in a gun.

  • Anyone who completed the hunter safety course, but they can only take home a rifle or shotgun the same day.

  • A serving law enforcement officer or serving military member.

However, at this time most people in Florida don’t meet those exemptions, so 3 days it is.

Florida’s Firearm Purchase Waiting Periods At Online Sunshine

A Narrow Exemption For Open Carry

Most famously, Florida does not allow the open carry of firearms by ordinary citizens unless the person is engaged or going from or coming to a hunting or fishing expedition. Readers of this blog will be familiar with all-around good guy and longtime supporter of RGG, Michael Taylor, aka the Armed Fisherman. Michael regularly goes on armed fishing expeditions, much to the consternation of law enforcement, who can’t really legally do anything about it, and also some supposedly pro-2A people.

Nonetheless, in 99 percent of the situations where a citizen of Florida is legally allowed to carry a firearm, they cannot openly display the weapon in public, even if properly holstered. Obviously if displaying the firearm is part of an overall successful self-defense situation, the law doesn’t apply, but merely openly carrying a firearm on public property is generally a no-go.

The current Hail Mary push for the 2023 legislative session is to add open carry to the Florida Senate version of the permitless carry bill, which would force the overall combined House and Senate bill to be reconciled, hopefully including open carry. But it’s a long shot. Most likely, the ratified version of the permitless carry law will be “concealed only”.

Expect an expansion to open carry in 2025 or 2026 pending DeSantis’ potential Presidential campaign.

Florida’s Open Carry Laws and Restrictions at Online Sunshine

Florida Is Far From Horrid In Terms Of The Second Amendment

Certainly, the purpose of this post was to drop some knowledge on those on both sides of the debate who consider Florida to be a firearms free-for-all. While a laudable goal, we’re not quite there yet.

That being said, there are things to cheer about in the Gunshine State.

  • No “assault weapons” bans.

  • Private sales of non-NFA items are still legal. I can sell a firearm to my friend down the street in Pinecrest as long as I feel he isn’t a prohibited possessor.

  • No restrictions other than federal on NFA items. Yes, some states ban NFA item ownership even if the Feds OK the paperwork.

  • State-level pre-emption, with teeth. Municipalities cannot enact strict gun control laws. If they attempt to do so, the municipal officials are personally liable.

  • An overall robust support of the Second Amendment, with even people nominally voting “D” expressing support.

Good stuff, and at least we’re not in California. However, with the slush of internal migration, we must be cautious. Remember that states like Colorado were reliable bastions of the Second Amendment 25 years ago. Nowadays, not so much.

Welcoming, but cautious. Brake-check those New York plates, but do it with a smile.

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