Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Background Check Procedures in Florida.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 28 September
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]
Background Checks in Florida
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
Florida is a point of contact state for the NICS. As a result, firearms dealers in Florida must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). More specifically, Florida law prohibits a licensed dealer from selling or delivering a firearm from his or her inventory at his or her licensed premises to anyone except a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacturer, without:
- Obtaining a completed form from the buyer or transferee, and inspecting proper photographic identification;
- Calling the FDLE and requesting a check of "the information as reported and reflected in the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center systems as of the date of the request;" and
- Receiving a unique approval number from FDLE and recording that number and the date on the form.
Upon receiving a request for a background check, the FDLE is required to review any available records to determine if the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm because he or she has been:
- Convicted of a felony;
- Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or
- "Adjudicated mentally defective" or "committed to a mental institution" by a court.
(Note that individuals in these categories are prohibited by federal law from possessing or purchasing firearms.) Florida law provides definitions of the terms "adjudicated mentally defective" and "committed to a mental institution."…
In addition, the FDLE must review available records to determine if the buyer or transferee has had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless three years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred. If any of these disqualifying conditions exist, the FDLE must inform the dealer that the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm and must provide the licensee a nonapproval number.
The FDLE must also review available records and issue a conditional nonapproval number if the buyer or transferee:
- Has been indicted or has had an information filed against her or him for a felony;
- Is subject to a domestic violence protective order, or an injunction against repeat violence; or
- Has been arrested for one of 22 enumerated "dangerous crime[s]" or for criminal anarchy, extortion, certain explosives violations, certain controlled substances violations, resisting an officer with violence, certain weapons and firearms violations, treason, assisting self-murder, sabotage, stalking or aggravated stalking.
The FDLE then has 24 "working hours" (3 business days) in which to determine the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest and inform the dealer as to whether the potential buyer is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm. Florida law requires the clerk of court to respond to an FDLE request for data on the disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest as soon as possible, but in no event later than 8 working hours. FDLE must continue its attempts to obtain the disposition information and may retain a record of all approval numbers granted without sufficient disposition information. If FDLE later obtains disposition information indicating that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm, FDLE must revoke the conditional approval number and notify law enforcement. During the time that disposition of the indictment, information, or arrest is pending, the conditional nonapproval number remains in effect.
Neither federal nor Florida law requires private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm…
In addition, Florida specifically exempts concealed weapons license holders from the state's background check requirement. However, Florida concealed weapons license holders are not exempt from the federal background check requirement…