By David S. Katz
FLORIDA’S NEW GUN LAW CHANGES THE AGE TO PURCHASE ALL FIREARMS TO 21.
SB 7026 became law in Florida on March 9, 2018 when Governor Scott signed the bill. Since then we have received numerous questions regarding the effects of the new laws. Section 12 of the bill amends Florida Statute §790.065 to ban the sale of any firearm to a person under 21 years of age. The text of the new law creates a conflict with §790.17 and leaves unclear whether or not a person between 18 – 21 may purchase a firearm in a private sale.
Florida Statute §790.065 Sale and Delivery of firearms relates to the steps that a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer must take prior to selling or delivering a firearm to a purchaser. Nothing in this section has previously dealt with the private sale of firearms. However, under the recently adopted amendment to the law, §790.065(13) now begins with the sentence, “A person younger than 21 years of age may not purchase a firearm.” The rest of this amended section deals with the same group of licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers as before and no penalties are listed apply to a private sale to a person under 21 years of age, however, the first sentence as noted above does not state it applies only to those purchases made from a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer and seems to be a blanket prohibition against any sale to a person under 21 years of age. This section does not make it illegal for a person under 21 to possess a firearm, but they cannot purchase one.
On the other hand, Florida Statute §790.17(2)(a) was not amended by SB 7026. It still reads, “a person may not knowingly or willfully sell or transfer a firearm to a minor under 18 years of age, except that a person may transfer ownership of a firearm to a minor with permission of the parent or guardian.” Because this section was not amended and §790.065 deals with licensed manufacturers, importers or dealers, it is unlikely the new law was intended to be a blanket prohibition against all sales of firearms to those under 21 and was likely intended to apply to only licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers. Until there is clarification, we strongly caution that the actual wording of the 790.065(13), “A person younger than 21 years of age may not purchase a firearm” be heeded. We are reaching out to the office of the Attorney General for guidance and will update this blog should guidance be provided.