Your Questions Answered on Owning & Buying a Gun in Florida

Buying a Gun in Florida

Owning and buying a gun in Florida comes with a set of rules and regulations that every potential gun owner should know. Understanding these legal requirements ensures you stay compliant and avoid any legal trouble. 

This article will explain what you need to know about background checks, waiting periods, and permits. We’ll also discuss specific laws, what tourists and non-residents need to be aware of, and the rules around carrying both openly and concealed. 

This article will help you quickly navigate Florida’s gun laws, providing straightforward answers to common questions and practical examples to illustrate key points. By the end, you’ll understand what it takes to purchase and own a firearm in the state legally. Please note that this guide is intended to give you our best understanding of the current laws related to owning and buying firearms in the state of Florida. However, it should not be considered legal advice; always consult proper legal professionals if you have specific questions.

Background Check and Waiting Period

Do I need a background check to purchase a gun in Florida? 

A background check is typically required when purchasing a gun in Florida. This is to ensure that the buyer does not have any disqualifying factors, such as a felony conviction or a history of mental illness. 

Background checks are mandatory for all sales conducted by licensed firearms dealers. However, Private sales between individuals in Florida do not require a background check by law. However, conducting a background check for safety is advised, which is an important distinction to remember if you are buying or selling privately. Note that county governments have the authority to mandate background checks and implement a 3- to 5-day waiting period for private firearm transfers. However, individuals with concealed carry permits are exempt from these additional county-specific requirements.

How long is the waiting period in Florida? 

The standard waiting period for purchasing a handgun in Florida is three business days, not including weekends or holidays. This period is intended to provide a cooling-off period and allow time for the background check to be completed.

Some counties in Florida can impose a longer waiting period. For example, Palm Beach County has a five-day waiting period. However, if you hold a valid Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License (CWP), there is no waiting period, although a background check is still required.

There is no mandatory waiting period for long guns in Florida, but some counties might have additional requirements. Always check local ordinances for specifics, as there may be extended waiting periods or other regulations in place.

Permit and Carry Regulations

Can I carry a gun without a permit in Florida?

Effective July 1, 2023, Florida’s House Bill 543 allows individuals to carry a concealed weapon or firearm without a Concealed Weapon License. This significant legislative change means that residents can now carry concealed firearms without undergoing the previous requirements of obtaining a permit, such as completing a firearms training course or passing a background check specifically for the license. This move aims to expand Second Amendment rights but also places more responsibility on individuals to understand the legal implications and safety measures of carrying a firearm.

This new law does not change the fundamental background check requirements for purchasing firearms from licensed dealers. All buyers must still pass a background check, and the mandatory three-day waiting period for handgun purchases remains in effect (unless you already hold a valid Florida CWP). Additionally, while the bill eases restrictions on concealed carry, it does not alter the prohibition on open carry in the state.

Can I carry a gun in my car in Florida?

Yes, you can carry a gun in your car in Florida, even without a CWFL (Concealed Weapon or Firearm License), but there are specific conditions you must follow. The firearm must be securely encased and not visible, which means it should be concealed in a glove compartment, snapped in a holster, or a gun case.

Due to the Constitutional Carry law, you can carry a gun in your car even if you don’t have a license to carry. For those with a CWFL, the rules are more relaxed, allowing you to carry a loaded gun in your car, either concealed or securely encased.

Specific Laws and Loopholes

What is the 3-day gun loophole in Florida? 

The ‘3-day gun loophole’ originally allowed a firearm sale to proceed if a background check was not completed within three business days. This meant that if the background check was delayed beyond this period, the sale could legally proceed even if the check was not finalized.

Historically, this loophole was created to prevent indefinite delays in gun purchases, but it also led to concerns about individuals obtaining firearms without a thorough vetting process. The loophole could impact gun purchases by allowing some buyers to receive their firearms before their background checks were complete, potentially posing risks if disqualifying information was discovered later.

However, as of 2018, the Charleston loophole has been closed in Florida. Now, a background check must come back with an approval before transferring the firearm, ensuring that all buyers are fully vetted before completing their purchase.

What is the new gun law in Florida? 

Florida recently updated its gun laws, introducing measures to enhance safety and regulation. Recent changes include raising the minimum age for purchasing any firearm from 18 to 21.

Additionally, the law introduces red flag provisions allowing law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others. These changes are significant for both current gun owners and those looking to purchase firearms in the future, as they place additional responsibilities and restrictions on buyers and sellers alike.

Tourists and Non-Residents

Can tourists buy guns in Florida?

Tourists generally cannot buy guns in Florida, but there are exceptions for certain types of firearms. Federal law mandates that firearm purchases are restricted to residents of the state where the purchase is being made. To buy a gun in Florida, you must provide proof of Florida residency, such as a Florida driver’s license or state ID.

However, long guns and shotguns can be purchased by out-of-state residents if their home state allows it. Pistols, on the other hand, cannot be transferred directly to out-of-state residents in Florida. Instead, pistols can be sold to them and then transferred to their home state’s Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer, where the background check would be conducted and the handgun transferred to the buyer. Temporary visitors or tourists from other countries do not meet these residency requirements and are ineligible to purchase firearms in Florida.

Can snowbirds buy guns in Florida?

Snowbirds can buy guns in Florida, but they must provide proof of Florida residency. Snowbirds, who live in Florida for a significant part of the year and in another state for the rest, need to show documentation that proves their Florida residency. Acceptable forms of proof include:

  • A Florida driver’s license
  • Voter registration card
  • Florida state fishing license

A utility bill is not acceptable. Additionally, at least one form of identification must be a picture ID, and all forms must match in terms of name, address, and other details. This documentation ensures that snowbirds reside in Florida for part of the year and are therefore eligible to buy guns in the state.

Open and Concealed Carry

Is Florida an open-carry state?

Florida is not an open carry state, meaning you generally cannot openly carry a firearm. There are a few exceptions, though, such as when you go to and from a hunting or fishing trip or while actively engaged in these activities. 

For instance, if you’re heading out for a day of fishing, you can carry your firearm from your home to the fishing spot. However, outside of these specific scenarios, openly carrying a gun can lead to serious legal consequences, including fines and potential jail time.

Can I conceal carry in Florida if I’m not a resident? 

Yes, non-residents can carry a concealed firearm in Florida, but there are rules to follow. Florida recognizes concealed carry permits from many other states, which means that if you have a valid license from your home state, you can legally carry concealed in Florida. 

However, ensuring that your state’s permit is recognized in Florida is essential. If your state’s permit is not recognized in Florida, you need to apply for a Florida CWFL, which includes background checks and a firearms training course. The application process involves submitting documentation, undergoing a background check, and sometimes completing a firearms training course.

Non-Resident Permits and Carry in Vehicles

Can a non-resident get a gun permit in Florida?

Yes, non-residents can obtain a concealed weapon or firearm license (CWFL) in Florida. The process for non-residents is similar to that for residents. Non-residents must complete a firearms training course, pass a background check, and submit an application to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

Additionally, they must provide proof of their home state residency, such as a driver’s license or state ID. Once approved, the CWFL allows non-residents to carry concealed firearms in Florida and other states that recognize Florida’s permit.

Can you keep a loaded gun in your glove box in Florida?

Yes, you can keep a loaded gun in your glove box in Florida. Under Florida law, individuals can carry a firearm in their vehicle without a CWFL as long as it is securely encased. 

The gun must be in a glove compartment, center console, snapped holster, or gun case. The critical requirement is that the firearm is not readily accessible immediately. For those with a CWFL, the regulations are even more flexible, allowing the gun to be more easily accessible within the vehicle.

Final Thoughts on Florida Gun Laws

Understanding Florida’s gun laws is essential for anyone looking to own or carry a firearm. From background checks and waiting periods to permits and carry regulations, knowing the rules helps you stay compliant and safe. 

Whether you’re a resident, a tourist, or a snowbird, each group has specific requirements that must be followed. It’s not just about owning a gun; it’s also about knowing where and how you can carry it, whether openly or concealed and the legalities of storing it in your vehicle. 

Given the potential for local variations, always check state and local regulations. Seek professional advice if needed to ensure compliance and responsible gun ownership. Staying educated ensures that you can exercise your rights responsibly and within the boundaries of the law.