Florida Gun Laws: More Restrictions Needed?

New questions are being raised after a Florida woman with mental health problems purchased a gun, and used that gun to kill herself and a friend three days later. The woman had a history of drug abuse, and had been held for mental evaluation on several previous occasions.

Florida’s gun laws are not considered very strict when it comes to preventing people from purchasing guns who may have a history of mental health issues.

The standard for refusing to sell someone a gun includes mental health conditions where a person is determined to be “mentally defective”, or a person who has been institutionalized involuntarily.  However, the term “mentally defective” is open to interpretation, and is not necessarily clear in the law.

Florida firearms dealers are required to submit a request to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to perform a background check on a person before selling them the gun.  The background check, which takes three days, includes searches for disqualifying events such as felony convictions or misdemeanors if they are domestic violence related, open restraining orders, as well as the known mental health issues.

However, private sales and gun shows are not required to perform the same background checks.

In this case, the check would not have made a difference, since the woman was not disqualified for gun ownership under the existing mental health condition restrictions.

This tragic case will likely bring new calls for tighter restrictions on red flags for mental health conditions that should restrict firearms ownership in Florida.

If you have been charged with a criminal gun possession or related weapons charges on Florida, please contact our defense lawyers for a consultaiton and free case evaluation.

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  1. Attorney Kinsella says

    as an ex-prosecutor the fact I have a carry permit has saved both my life, and another time my girlfriends life. I resepect your opinion which you have a right to but you are wrong to want to curtail the carry permit laws in Florida. You site an anomaly case to take away proteciton from prosecutors who do not have the same carry rights as police officers when they have retired or left the job. More prosecutors are murdered than police bc we are the ones who point the finger at the Defendant, who may in some of my cases been a rapist murderer, and I have received many threats. All due respect, do not use anomolous situations to get me and my girlfriend murdered. All my best to you, but you do not know the realit – – try dealing with the Outlaws “Jesus forgives Outlaws don’t” I wake up with this every day and you want to strip my right (and i served our country in the military also). All blessing to you but you are hurting good people by bringing up these type of anomolies. On the mass killing just about every one was under a psychiatrist care and “medication” these “anit-depressive” drugs should be banned. Don’t get me wrong, you are fully entitled to your opinion but without that carry permit I would be dead and my girlfried would be dead – – there is no protection for x-prosecutors unlike cops who have a union etc. All love and light to you and don’t take me the wrong way I only wish you all joy and happiness in life – – Tommy

  2. dmatson says


    Thank you for making such a personal and thoughtful post.

    I understand that cases like yours do absolutely happen. It’s a just a fact that bad things happen, and people get hurt and killed, no matter what the laws. All we can do is try to make the best decision to minimize the tragic results.

    Your opinion is perfectly reasonable, and I respect that. But many other reasonable people disagree, including most Florida police officers, who are in favor of greater gun restrictions.

    And I don’t think any credible gun restrictions would limit your ability to carry a weapon as a law abiding former officer of the court.

    But thanks again for commenting, and all the best to you.

  3. Anonymous says

    Such gun measures would do nothing to protect the public from a calculating criminal, and could only work in an environment where the person having his/ her rights removed is compliant with the authorities. Without provisions for reinstatement of gun rights, the bill is simply a stopgap measure that will not prevent deaths by firearms. To prevent deaths by firearms the ability to regulate the rate of fire, also known as “firepower”, would have to be regulated.

    It is very possible that this ineffective method of regulation ie. mental health labelling, is a ploy to reintroduce the idea of banning magazine size, or rate of firepower ie. semiautomatic weapons.


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