For better or worse, Florida is jokingly referred to as the “Gun-Shine State,” so knowing your rights when it comes to gun, knife, and weapons charges can be a career decision for any person in this state. This article will be about gun, knife, and weapons charges in general. If you’re interested in self-defense, “Stand Your Ground,” or the nuances of how to carry a firearm in your vehicle without getting arrested as a non-permit holder, feel free to check out any of those other pieces.
What Laws Cover Gun, Knife, or Weapons Charges in Florida?
Florida Statutes, Chapter 790 covers most of what we need to know about gun, knife, and weapons charges in this state. Let’s start with the notion that Florida is not an “open carry” state. Florida Statutes section 790.053 makes this a misdemeanor. In other words, generally speaking, permit-holding citizens can carry firearms in public, but you can’t just wear it on your hip. You have to carry concealed. But let’s start with the basics. Let’s start with some definitions.
Florida Statutes section 790.001(13) states as follows:
“Weapon” means any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.
And, according to subparagraph (3)(a), “concealed weapon” means to carry any of the above-mentioned weapons on or about your person “in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.”
Lastly, “firearm” is defined in subparagraph (6) as meaning “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun. The term “firearm” does not include an antique firearm unless the antique firearm is used in the commission of a crime.”
According to Florida Statutes section 790.01, the section that defines penalties, without having a concealed carry permit, carrying any of the above-mentioned “weapons” concealed on your person is a misdemeanor and if it’s a firearm that’s a third-degree felony. In addition to the “rules of the road” for otherwise law-abiding citizens, there are a handful of other laws that govern our possession of guns, knives, and other weapons in Florida.
Possession of Concealed Firearms and Weapons by Convicted Felons & Delinquents
Florida Statutes section 790.23 says that it is unlawful for any convicted felon or delinquent to own or possess any firearm, ammunition, or electric weapon or device, or to carry a concealed weapon. This is generally a second-degree felony, unless it’s subject to any other enhancement such as those found in Florida’s “10-20-Life” provision, in which case it typically carries a three-year minimum mandatory prison term.
Improper Exhibition of Dangerous Weapons or Firearms
Florida Statutes section 790.10 makes it a misdemeanor to display in front of others any weapon “in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner,” as opposed to displaying it in necessary self-defense. This, I believe, is meant to discourage people from brandishing knives or “flashing their piece.” However, an amendment to the “open carry” statute sheds further light on this. That particular statute, referenced above, also says that it is not unlawful for someone who is carrying pursuant to a a valid permit to “briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person,” unless this is done in the angry or threatening manner referred to in the language above. So whether a display is “improper” is a matter of context, like so many other things.
Possession of Weapons on School Grounds or at School Functions
Florida Statutes section 790.115 prohibits the possession or exhibition of pretty much any kind of weapon, including razor blades, box-cutters, and common pocketknives, at or near any school or school functions, without authorization. Violations of this statute are typically second or third-degree felonies.
Discharging a Firearm in Public or on Residential Property
Florida Statutes section 790.15 outlaws any person from knowingly discharging a firearm in any public place, or basically any residential area or over public roads. A general violation of this law is a misdemeanor. Subparagraph (2) makes it a second-degree felony for any occupant of a vehicle to discharge a firearm within 1000 feet of any person. And subparagraph (3) makes it a third-degree felony for any driver of a vehicle to direct an occupant to shoot. These appear to me to be clearly directed at enabling the police and prosecutors to more easily go after gangland-style drive-by shootings.
“Bump-Fire” Stocks Now Prohibited
After a number of high-profile shootings and other causes for concern, Florida has now outlawed what are called “bump-fire” stocks. These are basically devices that allow a semiautomatic long gun to function, for all intents and purposes, as thought it has the capability for automatic fire. The details of how this is done are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that, at this time, bump-fire stocks are illegal in Florida and possession of one constitutes a third-degree felony.
This is just a brief sample of the laws that can give rise to gun, knife, and weapons charges. We didn’t even get into machine guns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. But in terms of the situations that many of us deal with in our daily travels, this is a good starting point.
In any event, The Weisman Law Firm handles gun, knife, and weapons charges for people accused of crimes. The founders had the sense to establish the constitutional principles that we’re all presumed innocent until proven guilty, the burden is on the state to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that any person accused of a crime is guaranteed effective representation. If you, a friend, or a loved one has been accused of a crime like this, feel free to contact The Weisman Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation.