Due to recent events, new reports have indicated that firearm and ammunition purchases have increased significantly in 2012 and into 2013. As more and more people purchase and own firearms, it is very important that they know the laws regarding firearms possession and ownership in Florida. Florida has very severe criminal penalties for violating gun laws.
For instance, most people are aware that if you are a convicted felon, whether the felony conviction occurred in Florida or any other state, you are not allowed to possess a firearm. State prosecutors almost always recommend prison sentences for people charged with the crime of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Fewer people know that you are not allowed to purchase a firearm if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. This is a federal law. When you purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer, they will give you a form. One of the questions asked on the form is if you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Even if you have never been convicted of a felony before, but have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, the firearms dealer will not sell you a firearm. If you lie on that form, you could be charged with a serious federal crime.
If you are authorized to purchase and possess a firearm, it is still important to know the concealed firearms laws in Florida. Carrying a concealed firearm without a proper concealed firearms license is a felony crime in Florida. A common arrest for carrying a concealed firearm occurs when a police officer stops a person for a traffic violation and later finds a gun under the seat or hidden in the driver’s waistband. However, there are exceptions to the carrying a concealed firearm law. You are allowed to carry a concealed firearm without a concealed firearms permit in your home or at work.
While the exception for carrying a concealed firearm at home should be fairly straightforward, the exception for carrying a concealed firearm at work might be less clear. In a recent case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was arrested for carrying a gun in his waistband under his shirt at a union hall without a concealed firearms permit. However, the defendant was an elected official at the union hall so his criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the carrying a concealed firearm charge. The state argued that an elected official at a union is not the same as an employee. However, the court disagreed since the defendant performed various duties as part of his elected position. The carrying a concealed firearm case was thrown out.
Other cases could be questionable as well. Some courts in Florida have held that a person can carry a concealed firearm at his/her job without a permit during non-working hours. Other courts in Florida have not addressed this issue.