Fort Lauderdale Gun Rights Attorney
Broward County Lawyers Protecting Your Second Amendment Rights
The criminal consequences of committing gun-related offenses in Florida are generally understood. However, gun ownership in Florida and throughout the United States is also regulated by civil laws and regulations. These guidelines range from the Constitution, which states generally recognize as granting gun ownership rights to private citizens, to federal regulations that are aimed at ensuring firearms, ammunition and weapons technologies used by the military are not made available to anyone else.
Through the years, Congress has enacted federal legislation that has directly impacted the purchase of guns, as well as restrictions on who may legally purchase firearms. In some cases, the Supreme Court steps in to give Congress direction in creating gun legislation that is constitutional.
The following are examples of the ways in which multiple branches of government have impacted the ownership, manufacturing, purchase and sale of firearms in Florida and beyond:
Gun ownership under the Constitution’s Second Amendment
Florida recognizes gun ownership as a constitutional right under the Second Amendment. However, the state’s legal code does include certain restrictions and regulations on who may own a gun as well as when, where and how an individual may legally carry firearms Those who wish to carry a gun legally must first apply for a concealed weapons permit.
Concealed carry is legal in Florida. State law permits an individual to briefly and openly display a legally concealed gun in the sight of another person, provide the firearm is not being intentionally displayed in a threatening or angry manner. Florida’s concealed carry permit is the most widely-recognized concealed carry license, being recognized by 35 different states. Florida also allows guns to be carried in a vehicle without a permit if the weapon is not immediately accessible or available for use; handguns must be securely encased.
Though there is some legal debate about the meaning of “securely encased,” a handgun that is encased may be stored anywhere inside the vehicle. In 2008, Florida banned employers from firing employees who keep a gun in their vehicle while parked at work.
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
ITAR is a set of guidelines that restrict the export of defense and military technologies to protect U.S. national security and support foreign policy objectives. The U.S. Munitions List (USML) identifies military technologies and services that are under the jurisdiction of ITAR. These items are intended for military use and do not have predominant civilian applicability. Information on these technologies generally may not be disclosed or transferred to a foreign national.
Gun manufacturers and exporters must register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, a division of the U.S. State Department, and comply with ITAR. For global corporations that make or export items on the USML, compliance may be challenging as data related to the restricted technologies may need to be transferred over the Internet or stored outside the United States through the normal course of daily business operations. Failure to comply may result in civil fines up to $500,000, in addition to criminal fines and imprisonment.
Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
In contrast to ITAR, EAR is under the governance of the Bureau of Industry and Security division of the Department of Commerce. These regulations focus on items that are mainly used for commercial purposes, but also have a military use. Examples include GPS, weather radars, as well as firearms, other weapons and related technologies. The maximum civil fines for failure to comply with EAR regulations is $250,000, which may be assessed per violation.
National Firearms Act
Enacted in 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) taxes people and entities that are engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing and dealing specified firearms. All firearms named under the act must be registered with the Secretary of the Treasury. The 1934 version of the NFA included shotguns, rifles with a barrel less than 18 inches in length, machine guns, firearm mufflers, silencers and “any other weapons.”
The NFA imposed a duty on those who were transferring firearms as well as those who were in possession of unregistered firearms to register their weapons with the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department could then supply registration information to state authorities. State authorities could then use the information to prosecute criminal cases. For this reason, the Supreme Court held in 1968 that an individual who is accused of having an unregistered firearm has a legal defense in arguing the registration requirement infringes on the constitutional 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. This decision made the 1934 version of the NFA unenforceable due to the constitutional violation.
Gun Control Act
Also in 1968, Congress passed the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, which was originally a legislative response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in which a mail-order gun was used. At that time, Congress acted to ban mail-order gun sales, but the gun Control Act did not fully materialize and become law until years later. Title II of the GCA addressed the constitutional conflict in the NFA by removing the requirement to register unregistered firearms that were already in an individual’s possession.
Title II also prohibited the use of information from NFA applications in criminal court proceedings that are related to a criminal violation that is alleged to have taken place before or during the time the application was filed. The act included a restriction on imported guns that are not “generally recognized as being suitable for” or readily adaptable to be used for sporting purposes, including hunting and target shooting. In addition to including the restriction on imported guns, the act also prohibits most felons, drug users, and people who have been declared mentally incompetent from owning guns.
In 1993, the GCA was further enhanced by the passage of the Brady Handgun Prevention Act, which created a background check system and required licensed gun sellers to examine the criminal history of individuals who wish to purchase a gun. The Brady Act also added more categories of individuals to whom the sale of guns is prohibited.
We can help
For immediate help understanding how any of the legislation mentioned in this article impacts your civil gun lawsuit, call the experienced attorneys at Davitian Law, P.A. to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll strive to ensure your rights are protected from the moment we’re retained. Our law firm handles civil gun cases for clients in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida.