Florida has relatively strong laws to disarm hate, except it does not restrict people convicted of hate-motivated assaults involving credible threats of violence from accessing firearms.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Florida
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access||Very limited or no access|
Florida has a hate crime sentencing enhancement law that reclassifies the severity of offenses committed as hate crimes.1 Under this law, hate crimes are treated as one degree above the underlying crime: A second-degree misdemeanor like assault is reclassified as a first-degree misdemeanor when it is committed as a hate crime,2 and a first-degree misdemeanor like battery is reclassified as a lower-level felony.3 (Florida’s hate crime law does not include disability, gender, and gender identity as protected categories).
Florida does not specifically prohibit people convicted of hate crimes from accessing firearms, but, like federal law, generally prohibits people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony.4 Florida generally does not prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors from accessing firearms, and does not make any misdemeanors punishable by a term long enough to trigger federal firearm restrictions either.5
However, because Florida’s hate crime sentencing statute reclassifies first-degree misdemeanors as felonies when they are committed as hate crimes, people convicted of these offenses are generally subject to both state and federal firearm restrictions.
Florida generally classifies violent crimes as felonies or first-degree misdemeanors if they involve bodily injury,6 intentional use of force,7 threats or violence with a deadly weapon,8 as well as some other threats of violence.9
However, people convicted of hate-motivated assaults10generally remain eligible to access firearms in Florida since this offense is a lower-level misdemeanor.
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- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.085(1)(a). Florida law also requires officials to collect and report data on hate crime incidents that fall within the hate crime enhancement statute. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 877.16; 877.19.
- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.082(4)(a); 775.08.
- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.082(3)(e).
- Fla. Stat. Ann. § 790.23(1); 775.08(1). Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 921(a)(20)(B).
- The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor under Florida law is one year imprisonment. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.082(4)(a); 775.08.
- See, e.g., felony Aggravated battery, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.045(1)(a)(1); Felony battery, § 784.041; and misdemeanor Battery, § 784.03.
- See, e.g., first degree misdemeanor “Battery,” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.03.
- See, e.g., felony “Aggravated battery” with a deadly weapon, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.045(1)(a)(2), felony “Written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism,” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 836.10.
- See, e.g., id.;felony “Threats,” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 836.05, felony “Aggravated stalking,” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.048(2).
- “Assault” is defined as an “intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.” Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.011.