Comparing Florida and Federal Gun Laws
Orlando’s News Channel 6 recently got a rare, up close look at a cache of guns, firearm accessories, and other weapons confiscated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The munitions are stored at a warehouse in Central Florida, and were taken off the streets from people who had either stolen them or obtained them by otherwise illegal methods. The firearms were confiscated by the ATF due to various violations of federal and/or Florida laws regarding gun possession. If you’ve been arrested on weapons charges, you should know that, while state and federal laws bear many similarities, there are subtle differences.
Federal Weapons Charges
There are a number of reasons the guns might have been confiscated by the ATF under federal law, including:
- Carrying a firearm on federal property;
- Being in possession of an unregistered gun;
- Providing false statements or ID pursuant to a federal background check;
- Altering or removing the serial number on a gun;
- Possessing a firearm after a felony conviction;
- Altering a weapon to make it fully automatic;
- Transferring a weapon to someone with knowledge that it will be used in connection with a crime; or,
- Buying a firearm on behalf of someone who is unable to pass a background check.
Florida Law on Gun Possession
In general, state gun laws are similar to the federal rules. Florida regulates firearm and ammunition ownership, purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacturing, possession and transportation. In addition, there is a state law against unlawful discharge of a weapon, which can lead to misdemeanor charges – or a felony if you fire the gun from a vehicle within 1,000 feet of another person. If you’re a convicted felon, there is an almost complete ban on gun possession.
Florida’s Carry Laws
Unlike the federal government, Florida does allow certain individuals to carry a firearm on their person or in a vehicle. However, you must have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, which requires a background check, fingerprinting, and other requirements. Still, even those with a permit for concealed carry are prohibited from possessing a gun in certain areas, including:
- Law enforcement stations;
- Correctional facilities and jails;
- Polling places;
- Places hosting a meeting of government or school district;
- School events, including athletics, educational competitions, and performances;
- Establishments where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises;
- Airports, in post-security screening areas; and,
- Places where carrying a firearm is prohibited by federal law.
Note that in Florida, it is illegal to openly carry a firearm, unless you’re hunting, fishing, camping, or practice shooting at a range.
Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney About Weapons Charges
Regardless of whether you’re charged under Florida or federal law for illegal gun possession, the penalties can be severe. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your case with a Florida criminal defense attorney who will represent you in court and protect your rights. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has experience representing clients facing both state and federal weapons charges, and will present all available defenses under the law. Please contact our office with questions or to schedule a confidential consultation.