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Florida Gun Laws explained in Norman v. State

The 4th District Court of Appeals just answered the following issue regarding firearms in Florida: Whether or not Florida’s Constitution allows an individual the right to keep and bear arms; which includes the ability to openly carry a gun outside the home for self-defense without the need for a permit? The Appellate Court reasoned that a Florida citizen does not have a right to openly carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense without a permit.

Understanding the Right to keep and Bear Arms under Florida law must first begin with the Florida Constitution, which differs greatly from the United States Constitutional Right to Bear Arms. The Florida Constitution states: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” The Florida Constitution differs greatly from the United States Constitution in that the Florida Right to Bear Arms Amendment specifically states the manner in which guns are borne can be regulated. The clause in the Florida Constitution allows the legislature “to regulate by law, the manner of bearing arms.” This allows our elected legislatures the right to restrict our use to carry firearms in Florida. Therefore, Section 790.053 Fla. Stat. is Constitutional, which prohibits the open carrying of loaded or unloaded handguns in most public areas except under limited circumstances.

Under Section 790.053 Fla. Stat. the Florida Legislatures have enacted a law titled “Open Carrying of Weapons.” Under the Open Carrying of Weapons law, it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device in the State of Florida, unless the person is licensed under Fla. Stat. 790.06(1) to do so. The law prohibits individuals that do not have a valid Florida carry and conceal permit to carry a firearm outside their home for self-defense.

The 4th DCA reasoned that under Florida’s Constitutional Right to keep and Bear Arms, a Floridian does have a right to keep arms within their home for self-defense with limited government scrutiny. This home right to bear arms is borne out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, where the Court held that the Second Amendment protects the possession of guns in the home for self-defense. But because the issue in Normanwas regarding the carrying of firearms outside of the home, the rule crafted by the Legislatures in order to be Constitutional, must have been passed in a way that is (1) reasonable; and (2) does not effectively destroy the right in practice, by imposing a substantial limitation on the exercise of firearm possession for self-defense outside the home.

Because Florida Legislatures have carved out a “Must Issue Permit” for firearm holders to possess guns outside of their home, if the firearm holder meets simple criteria, the Florida law prohibiting open carrying of a firearm without a permit is not Unconstitutional, as argued byNorman.

Under Florida Law the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is required to issue a firearm license under Florida’s “shall issue” gun permit law to any person who meets the following nondiscretionary, objective criteria for issuance: (i) resident of the United States; (ii) is 21 years of age or older; (iii) does not suffer from physical infirmities that prevent handling safe weapon; (iv) not a convicted felon; (v) not committed for abuse of controlled substance; (vi) not a habitual alcoholic; (vii) desires lawful use of firearm; (viii) competency demonstrated with a firearm; (ix) has not been adjudicated incapacitated; (x) not committed to mental facility; (xi) not been convicted of domestic violence charge unless three years have elapsed since probation or sentence ended; (xii) has not been issued an injunction that is currently in force and effect and (xiii) is not prohibited under federal law from owning or possessing a firearm.

The 4th DCA ruled that the Right to keep and Bears Arms in Florida is a personal right and not a collective right. It further ruled that because the Florida Constitution specifically allows for legislators to “regulate the manner of bearing arms” is specific to keeping arms outside the home. And because the Florida Legislatures have placed into the law the “Shall Issue Carry and Concealed Permit” that the right to keep and bears arms outside the home does not improperly infringe on a person’s right to carry and bear arms outside the home.

If you or a loved one is facing a firearm or gun charge in Palm Beach County or anywhere else in Florida, contact Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine, who is a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment and gun rights advocate. Andrew D. Stine, has been representing those accused of gun charges for over a decade throughout Palm Beach County and the entire State of Florida. Do has thousands have done for more than a decade “Hire Stine or Do the Time.”

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