In Florida, an individual can buy, gift, sell or transfer a firearm to another person provided they follow federal and state laws. While the Sunshine State is more lenient than some other states regarding the private sale of guns, it does have some legal restrictions to maximize safety and protect against criminal activity.
Florida State Requirements for Purchasing Firearms
While Florida follows federal law regarding gun purchases, it also has its own laws. The state does not require a person to have a permit for firearm purchases, but does require dealers to do background checks on buyers. This is not required of private sellers. Additional requirements to purchase a gun in Florida include:
- Purchaser must be at least 21 years of age, but 18-year-olds can buy long guns as long as they are a law enforcement or correctional officer.
- Person purchasing a handgun must live in the state of Florida. They can buy long guns in other states as long as the sale follows the laws in that state.
- Legal permanent resident aliens living in Florida can purchase a firearm, but they must show an alien registration number. Nonresident aliens temporarily in Florida must show a border crossing number, known as an I-94, with a valid exception document.
- There is a three-day waiting period, excluding weekends and state holidays, between purchasing and delivering any firearm. Counties and municipalities can enact local ordinances that lengthen the waiting period for up to five days.
The state does not limit the number of guns that can be transferred in one transaction. It considers the transaction complete once the buyer fills out and signs A.T.F. Form 4473. Additional transfers require separate background checks, no matter when they occur, even if it has been only a few minutes from the last transaction.
Federal Gun Laws and the Transfer of Firearms
According to Title 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3), an unlicensed or non-dealer can transfer guns to another unlicensed or non-dealer if they reside in the same state, but it is illegal for them to transport or receive a firearm from a seller living in another state. A private seller cannot sell or deliver a gun to a purchaser who does not live in their state.
In addition, Title 18 states that it is illegal for a private seller to sell a gun to a private buyer if they have reason to believe that individual cannot possess or receive it under federal or state laws. If private buyers and sellers breach these requirements, the transaction is illegal, and both parties can face severe legal repercussions.
People Who Cannot Buy Firearms
Federal law bans certain categories of people from purchasing firearms, according to Title 18. They include:
- Convicted felons.
- Unlawful users or people addicted to controlled substances.
- Involuntarily committed people or those determined to be mentally defective.
- Illegal aliens.
- Persons who have received a dishonorable discharge from the military.
- Persons renouncing their U.S. citizenship.
- Persons currently under a protection order, such as a restraining order or protection injunction.
- Persons convicted of a misdemeanor for domestic violence.
- Persons under indictment for a felony charge.
In addition, Florida law prohibits a person from owning a firearm who has been:
- Determined to be delinquent of a crime that would be a felony if an adult committed it.
- Designated "Adjudication Withheld" status on a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor less than three years since the completion of their sentence.
- Recently arrested for a disqualifying crime and who has not had a disposal or dismissal in court.
Considerations for Gun Sellers and Buyers
When selling firearms privately in Florida, neither state nor federal laws require a bill of sale, but the document can offer recorded proof of the transaction, should the gun end up stolen or used in a crime. Florida maintains a Department of Law Enforcement Stolen Gun Search site that allows any party to enter a firearm's serial number to see if it's stolen. Gun sellers should ask for a valid ID to prove that a buyer is over 21 and meet buyers in a public place to make the transaction.
Any gun that someone sells must have a serial number, and the firearm can't be sold with illegal accessories, like a silencer or bump stock. There is no agency in the state that monitors the private sale of guns, but the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) keeps records of their initial information from manufacturers and retailers.
Getting a Florida Concealed Weapons Permit
A person who wants to carry a concealed weapon in Florida must be over 21 and show competency using the firearm. They must live in the U.S. unless they serve in the armed forces overseas, are permanent legal residents or U.S. citizens. Applicants can file for a firearm license electronically through the state's Division of Licensing Regional Offices or in authorized tax collector's offices in various locations around the state.
The turnaround time to process a concealed carry license is about 55 days. However, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has up to 90 days to process the request and does so on a first-come, first-served basis. A concealed carry permit costs $42 for the fingerprint processing fee, $55 for the initial license fee, or $97 total for Florida residents. Renewing the license fee is $45 and getting a duplicate is $15. A permit for out-of-state residents is also $97.
- Cornell Law: 18 U.S. Code Section 922 - Unlawful acts
- FDACS.gov: Florida Statutes Section 790.06 Fee Schedule Concealed Weapon or Firearm
- Florida Crime Information Center: Stolen Gun Search
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: ATF Form 4473 - Firearms Transaction Record Revisions
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Eligibility Requirements for a Florida Concealed Weapon License
- FDACS.gov: FAQ
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement: Requirements to Purchase a Firearm
- First Coast News: Legality and Risks of Private Gun Sales in Florida
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.