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.)
Like federal law, Florida law generally requires gun dealers to conduct background checks on buyers prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm on the dealer’s premises.1 Florida is a point of contact state for the NICS, meaning that firearms dealers in Florida must initiate the background check required by both federal and Florida law by contacting a state agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), instead of the FBI.2
More specifically, Florida law prohibits a licensed dealer from selling or delivering a firearm from their inventory at their 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.3
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 they have been:
- Convicted of a felony;
- Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that renders them prohibited from purchasing a firearm;
- Had an adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (unless 3 years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred); or
- Been subject to certain court orders and adjudications related to a serious mental condition. 4
In 2018, Florida enacted an extreme risk protection order law that authorizes law enforcement agencies to petition a court for a civil order preventing a dangerous person from accessing firearms for up to one year.5 Within 24 hours after a risk protection order is issued, the clerk of the issuing court must forward the order to law enforcement for entry into the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center so that the order can be enforced when background checks are performed.6
(For information about these firearm prohibitions, see the Florida Firearm Prohibitions and Domestic Violence & Firearms pages. For information about mental health-related firearm restrictions and processes for restoring firearm eligibility after a mental health-related adjudication, please see the Florida Mental Health Reporting page).
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.7
Default Proceeds (“The Charleston Loophole”):
Florida has closed the Charleston Loophole, which under federal law authorizes gun dealers to complete the delivery of a firearm to a purchaser before the background check is complete, if three business days have elapsed since the dealer initiated the background check. As part of a broad package of gun safety reforms enacted in 2018, Florida enacted a provision that generally restricts gun dealers from delivering a firearm until expiration of a waiting period, which lasts either three days, excluding weekends and holidays, or upon completion of the firearm background check in accordance with state law—whichever occurs later.8 This provision has the effect of closing the Charleston Loophole by preventing dealers from selling or delivering firearms to a person before FDLE has confirmed that the person actually passed a completed background check.
Neither federal nor Florida law requires sellers who are not licensed dealers to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
In addition, while Florida law specifically exempts concealed weapons license holders from passing background checks when acquiring firearms from licensed firearm dealers,9 such individuals are not exempt from the federal background check requirement.10
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- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 790.065(1)(a).
- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 790.065(1)(a)(3); Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Feb. 2, 2022).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1)(a). Under Fla. Stat. § 790.065(10), a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is not required to comply with the background check requirements of Fla. Stat. § 790.065 in the event of unavailability of telephone service at the licensed premises, or failure of FDLE to comply with the requirements of Florida law pertaining to firearm purchaser background checks.
- Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a). With respect to court orders and adjudications related to a serious mental condition, this statute refers to individuals who have been “adjudicated mentally defective” or “committed to a mental institution by a court,” as defined, as well as individuals who who were involuntarily subject to a psychiatric evaluation and determined by a physician to be an imminent danger to self or others in specified circumstances where the individual accepted voluntary admission to a mental institution for outpatient or inpatient treatment in circumstances where the physician would otherwise have sought involuntary treatment or commitment). See Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(a)(4).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401, et seq. (enacted in 2018 by 2018 FL SB 7026).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.401(10)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.0655(1). See also, Fla. Stat. § 790.065(2)(b).
- Fla. Stat. § 790.065(1)(b).
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 21, 2020), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chartl.