Here’s the good news: buying a gun in Florida is pretty simple. If you’ve never bought a gun before, the process may seem intimidating. But there are specific steps you can take to make sure you get the firearm you need and use it safely and responsibly. In this article, we will walk through the rules and regulations, where to buy your weapon, and what to expect throughout the process.
Despite Florida’s reputation, it’s actually not the easiest state in the U.S. to buy a weapon in, though it does get considerably easier for holders of concealed carry permits.
How to Buy a Gun in Florida
The first step in buying a gun in Florida is knowing what kind of firearm you want. The state of Florida does not place any restrictions on certain types of firearms beyond the federal restrictions that are in place, but some local ordinances may apply so feel free to check that if you want.
Please note that you don’t need a permit to purchase a gun in Florida, but you will have to undergo a background check!
Once you have decided on the type of firearm you want, you can start looking into where to buy it from. If you choose to get a CCP, please note that you undergo a more thorough background check than just to purchase a single firearm, and you have to demonstrate competency with a firearm, so the state already knows you’re legal.
Choosing a Store
When choosing a store to purchase your firearm from, make sure that it is licensed and certified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The ATF will be able to provide information on which stores meet their standards and are authorized to sell firearms.
If you are going into a physical store, you can always ask about licensure, but there’s no way a gun store is going to be in public operation unless it’s licensed. That said, not all licenses are the same, so if you’re looking to purchase an NFA item like a suppressor, you’ll need to work with a dealer that has a Class III SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer) along with their Federal Firearms License (FFL).
Alternatively, if you choose to buy online, even if you buy a new firearm from a licensed dealer, they will have to ship it to a local FFL for the background check and transfer of ownership to take place in person.
You can also buy from a private seller, as long as you’re not a prohibited person according to the Feds and you are over the age of 21. For first-time firearm buyers, though, I’d recommend going to a gun store and giving yourself a few options to test out. The countermen at the store will be able to give you advice and make sure you get the accessories you need
Selecting & Purchasing Your Firearm
So, how do you choose which gun to buy?
It starts with why you’re buying it. Contrary to what many of the uninitiated might feel, not all guns are created equal, and they’re not all designed for the same purpose. Some guns are great for home defense, some are great for concealed carry, some are great for hunting big game, etc.
Once you’ve chosen your firearm, the next step is to purchase it. Before completing the purchase, make sure that all of the paperwork related to the firearm is correct and up-to-date. This includes the manufacturer’s warranty card and any other documentation related to the weapon. Do your due diligence to make sure all the paperwork is correct to your knowledge.
999 times out of 1000, this is all handled properly by the dealer. Not only can they get their license revoked off a single infraction, but they can even serve jail time. That said, it’s still a good rule of thumb.
The Background Check
Before purchasing a gun in Florida, you must pass a background check. The background check will be conducted by either a local law enforcement agency or an authorized third party vendor such as NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System).
You will need to bring along two forms of identification such as a valid driver’s license or passport as well as proof of address such as a utility bill or rental agreement.
Even if you buy a gun online or at a gun show, you’ll still need to undergo a background check unless you’re buying a used firearm from a private party, in which case the seller is under legal obligation not to knowingly sell it to a prohibited person or someone under 21 years of age.
If you are a prohibited person and you purchase a firearm from a private seller, there are additional severe penalties.
The Waiting Period
Once your background check is complete, there may be a waiting period before you can pick up your firearm. In Florida, this waiting period is three days after purchase before you can take possession of your gun. There are some exceptions to this rule so make sure to ask when purchasing your firearm if there are any exceptions that apply to your situation.
The main exception that I can find is if you already have a concealed carry permit. Since you already had to undergo a thorough background check, a competency test, and other steps to get the permit, and since you have to get the permit renewed every few years, the state allows you to bypass the waiting period for each firearm purchase.
The waiting period is in place as a stop-gap for those purchasing a weapon with the intent to do harm.
Picking Up Your Gun
When it comes time to pick up your gun, make sure that it is carried out properly according to local laws and regulations. You should bring along two forms of identification for yourself as well as proof of address such as a utility bill or rental agreement. Florida requires both the buyer and seller to be residents of Florida to purchase a handgun,
However, Florida does not require them to be residents of Florida when purchasing a rifle or shotgun, as long as the sale complies with the laws of the buyer’s state of residence.
How a Concealed Carry Permit Makes it Easier
If you plan on carrying your firearm in public places such as parks or restaurants, obtaining a concealed carry permit can help simplify the process. A concealed carry permit allows individuals who have gone through additional training and background checks to legally carry their guns concealed in Florida.
This is true in some other states as well. As I mentioned above, having a CCP can help you skip a few steps. This is because the state already knows who you are and that you are a law-abiding citizen who isn’t prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Since Florida also requires you to demonstrate competency with your firearm, it makes sense that they don’t force you to jump through all the hoops again.
How to Determine Your Eligibility to Buy a Gun in Florida
In order for an individual to be eligible for purchasing a firearm in Florida there are several federal guidelines that must be met as well as state-specific requirements that must be adhered to. If you’ve got any questions about your eligibility after reading this article, you can try the state website or just call up a local gun store who can provide you with answers.
The Ten Things that Makes a Person Ineligible According to the Federal Government
The federal government has a lot to say when it comes to who is and is not allowed to possess a firearm, and a lot of states (Florida included) don’t add a whole lot to the list. Here are the ten things that would prohibit a person from being able to purchase a firearm:
- Conviction of a felony or crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year;
- Fugitive from justice;
- Unlawful user or addicted to any controlled substance;
- Has been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to any mental institution;
- An illegal alien;
- Dishonorably discharged from the military;
- Has renounced his/her US citizenship;
- Subject of a restraining order prohibiting them from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner;
- Convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence;
- Under indictment for any felony criminal offense.
To purchase a handgun, an individual must be 21 years old or older in order, regardless of whether it’s from an FFL dealer or a private seller. For long guns such as rifles and shotguns, an individual must only be 18 years old or older in order to purchase them legally in the U.S, which again applies both to dealer sales and private sales.
In addition to meeting federal eligibility requirements for purchasing firearms in Florida, individuals must also meet certain age and residency requirements set forth by state law:
An individual must be either an active duty member of the US military stationed in Florida OR reside within the state full-time to purchase a firearm within Florida’s borders. They also have to provide proof of residency along with their identification. Something like a utility bill or rental agreement usually works to prove their residency status.
Getting a Concealed Carry Permit
Although not required for purchasing firearms in Florida, obtaining a concealed carry permit can help simplify the process each time you need to buy another gun. Also, a CCP is required for carrying concealed in Florida with only a few exceptions, like having a gun securely encased in your car, for example. Know gun ownership by state, Read here
No, but it’s not as easy as you might believe. The biggest obstacle besides federal prohibitions is the waiting period, which is three days long. Provided you don’t need the gun faster than that for a hunting trip or something, it’s not particularly difficult to acquire a firearm in the state of Florida.
Yes. Individuals who legally own firearms within Florida can store them securely inside motor vehicles provided they are unloaded while being transported within state lines, and provided they comply with applicable laws regarding storage while out on public roads.
You can purchase firearms that aren’t against federal law within Florida’s borders, but there are some exceptions. For example, in Miami-Dade County, they have some special regulations about “assault-style” rifles. If you’re not sure about the laws in your county, feel free to check with the local government or a gun store within the county.
Buying a new gun is always exciting, and Florida isn’t a bad state to do it in. As long as you’re not a prohibited person, you live in Florida, and are old enough (18 for long guns and 21 for handguns), you shouldn’t have a hard time getting a firearm. The waiting period can be a bit of a gotcha if you aren’t expecting it and wait until right before a hunting trip to buy your gun.
Full disclosure, I don’t live in Florida, so I’ve done my research and put my findings here. For those of you who do live in Florida, feel free to set me straight in the comments if I’ve put something inaccurate here. Also, laws and regulations do change from time to time, so if you’re reading this long after it was written, be aware that some of it might be out of date.