Assault Rifle Laws for Florida

By Whitney Houston
The Thompson submachine gun is also known as the "Tommy gun."
Solider aiming his thompson submachine gun image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com

Florida assault rifle laws fall under federal law with a few additional restrictions. An assault rifle is defined as a hand-held weapon capable of firing in an automatic or semi-automatic mode. A semi-automatic weapon fires with each trigger pull, whereas a fully automatic weapon fires repeatedly, until the trigger is released or ammunition runs out. Both types of gun are known as assault weapons, or military-style weapons.

Florida Law

In the state of Florida, possessing an operable machine gun (a firearm that fires continuously with a single pull of the trigger, also known as an automatic weapon) is illegal unless possessed and owned under the rules of federal law. It’s legal for an individual to purchase a transferable automatic rifle (meaning it was registered prior to May 19, 1986) if the following criteria are met: the individual must be 21, sane, a non-abuser of alcohol or drugs, and a non-felon. A completed BATF Form 4, fingerprints and photos must be submitted to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) before approval will be granted.

Under no circumstances may the following individuals possess or own an automatic weapon: convicted felons, minors, drug users (used in the past three years), alcohol abusers, people committed to mental institutions within the past five years and individuals being investigated for domestic violence. Penalties can increase if an individual is found in possession of a machine gun with a magazine capacity of 21 or more rounds during a narcotics offense or serious felony.

Federal Law

The National Firearms Act of 1934 heavily regulates assault weapons of any kind, which are further regulated in Florida, but not significantly. Assault weapons are only legal to possess if approval to own has been granted following application to the ATF. Restricted guns include (but are not limited to) machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, grenades, cane guns and firearms made to look like something else. In 1934, the NFA specified a $200 duty be paid each time a machine gun is possessed, or transferred from one legally registered and authorized person to another. This requirement is still in effect as of 2010.

An individual may make a machine gun if he applies to the ATF and can provide documentation the machine gun will be made for distribution to a state or federal agency, as machine guns are still in use by some entities, including the United States military. All assault weapons must be applied for and registered with the Secretary of the Treasury.

History

The Federal 1994 Crime Bill, also known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, outlawed civilian manufacture of automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles. The law also prohibited any weapon with a large capacity for ammunition to feed into it, defined these devices as assault weapons, and defined a rifle with semi-automatic capabilities as an assault weapon if it could accept interchangeable magazines and has at least two of these characteristics: a telescoping stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or a grenade launcher. This ban expired in 2004 and wasn’t renewed.

About the Author

Whitney Houston began writing in 2006. Her work has been published in "BUST" and PaperDolls magazines. Houston attended St. Edward's University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in photocommunications (photography and digital imaging).