BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Your neighbor may own an AR-15, but you’re not allowed to know that. Either is the police officer rushing to your neighbor’s home for a domestic abuse call.
Under FOPA — the Firearm’s owner protection act of 1986 — and Florida law, there is no list accessible to the public — or, incredibly, law enforcement — of who owns a gun.
The exception: law enforcement is allowed to keep a list once someone uses a gun to commit a crime in the state.
To put it another way: cops now know that Nickolas Cruz has an AR-15. It only took the slaughter of 17 people for them to find out.
Let’s focus on Florida, which certainly could make it uncomfortable for folks to own assault weapons.
Florida lawmakers in passing 790.335 were afraid of citizens — or law enforcement — profiling other citizens who have weapons.
We ask: how is profiling someone who has an assault weapon a bad thing? Anyone needing an assault weapon in their home clearly has issues and arguably should be profiled. In fact, we’ll profile you right now: you have power issues, probably play too many video games, likely believe the government is going to come and get you, and have absolutely no ability to make an argument using your vocabulary. You believe that might is right.
You have serious issues.
Want to have a gun? The second amendment says that’s fine. But no one ever said that you have a right to keep your musket — or AR-15 — without other people knowing that you have it.
Florida lawmakers: how about reviewing all statues involving guns in the state and trying again? We say the public has a right to know if someone has an assault weapon under their bed.
Here’s the statute:
1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
1. The right of individuals to keep and bear arms is guaranteed under both the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 8, Art. I of the State Constitution.
2. A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a law enforcement tool and can become an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Further, such a list, record, or registry has the potential to fall into the wrong hands and become a shopping list for thieves.
3. A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a tool for fighting terrorism, but rather is an instrument that can be used as a means to profile innocent citizens and to harass and abuse American citizens based solely on their choice to own firearms and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution.
4. Law-abiding firearm owners whose names have been illegally recorded in a list, record, or registry are entitled to redress.
(b) The Legislature intends through the provisions of this section to:
1. Protect the right of individuals to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under both the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 8, Art. I of the State Constitution.
2. Protect the privacy rights of law-abiding firearm owners.
(2) PROHIBITIONS.—No state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of such state or other governmental entity or any other person, public or private, shall knowingly and willfully keep or cause to be kept any list, record, or registry of privately owned firearms or any list, record, or registry of the owners of those firearms.
(3) EXCEPTIONS.—The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(a) Records of firearms that have been used in committing any crime.
(b) Records relating to any person who has been convicted of a crime.
(c) Records of firearms that have been reported stolen that are retained for a period not in excess of 10 days after such firearms are recovered. Official documentation recording the theft of a recovered weapon may be maintained no longer than the balance of the year entered, plus 2 years.
(d) Firearm records that must be retained by firearm dealers under federal law, including copies of such records transmitted to law enforcement agencies. However, no state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of such state or other governmental entity or any other person, private or public, shall accumulate, compile, computerize, or otherwise collect or convert such written records into any form of list, registry, or database for any purpose.
(e)1. Records kept pursuant to the recordkeeping provisions of s. 790.065; however, nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the public release or inspection of records that are made confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) by s. 790.065(4)(a).
2. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to allow the maintaining of records containing the names of purchasers or transferees who receive unique approval numbers or the maintaining of records of firearm transactions.
(f) Firearm records, including paper pawn transaction forms and contracts on firearm transactions, required by chapters 538 and 539.
1. Electronic firearm records held pursuant to chapter 538 may only be kept by a secondhand dealer for 30 days after the date of the purchase of the firearm by the secondhand dealer.
2. Electronic firearm records held pursuant to chapter 539 may only be kept by a pawnbroker for 30 days after the expiration of the loan that is secured by a firearm or 30 days after the date of purchase of a firearm, whichever is applicable.
3. Except as required by federal law, any firearm records kept pursuant to chapter 538 or chapter 539 shall not, at any time, be electronically transferred to any public or private entity, agency, business, or enterprise, nor shall any such records be copied or transferred for purposes of accumulation of such records into lists, registries, or databases.
4. Notwithstanding subparagraph 3., secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers may electronically submit firearm transaction records to the appropriate law enforcement agencies as required by chapters 538 and 539; however, the law enforcement agencies may not electronically submit such records to any other person or entity and must destroy such records within 60 days after receipt of such records.
5. Notwithstanding subparagraph 3., secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers may electronically submit limited firearms records consisting solely of the manufacturer, model, serial number, and caliber of pawned or purchased firearms to a third-party private provider that is exclusively incorporated, exclusively owned, and exclusively operated in the United States and that restricts access to such information to only appropriate law enforcement agencies for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Such records must be destroyed within 30 days by the third-party provider. As a condition of receipt of such records, the third-party provider must agree in writing to comply with the requirements of this section. Any pawnbroker or secondhand dealer who contracts with a third-party provider other than as provided in this act or electronically transmits any records of firearms transactions to any third-party provider other than the records specifically allowed by this paragraph commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(g) Records kept by the Department of Law Enforcement of NCIC transactions to the extent required by federal law and a log of dates of requests for criminal history record checks, unique approval and nonapproval numbers, license identification numbers, and transaction numbers corresponding to such dates.
(h) Records of an insurer that, as a condition to providing insurance against theft or loss of a firearm, identify such firearm. Such records may not be sold, commingled with records relating to other firearms, or transferred to any other person or entity. The insurer may not keep a record of such firearm more than 60 days after the policy of insurance expires or after notification by the insured that the insured is no longer the owner of such firearm.
(i) Lists of customers of a firearm dealer retained by such dealer, provided that such lists do not disclose the particular firearms purchased. Such lists, or any parts thereof, may not be sold, commingled with records relating to other firearms, or transferred to any other person or entity.
(j) Sales receipts retained by the seller of firearms or by a person providing credit for such purchase, provided that such receipts shall not serve as or be used for the creation of a database for registration of firearms.
(k) Personal records of firearms maintained by the owner of such firearms.
(l) Records maintained by a business that stores or acts as the selling agent of firearms on behalf of the lawful owner of the firearms.
(m) Membership lists of organizations comprised of firearm owners.
(n) Records maintained by an employer or contracting entity of the firearms owned by its officers, employees, or agents, if such firearms are used in the course of business performed on behalf of the employer.
(o) Records maintained pursuant to s. 790.06 by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services of a person who was a licensee within the prior 2 years.
(p) Records of firearms involved in criminal investigations, criminal prosecutions, criminal appeals, and postconviction motions, civil proceedings relating to the surrender or seizure of firearms including protective injunctions, Baker Act commitments, and sheriff’s levies pursuant to court judgments, and voluntary surrender by the owner or custodian of the firearm.
(q) Paper documents relating to firearms involved in criminal cases, criminal investigations, and criminal prosecutions, civil proceedings relating to the surrender or seizure of firearms including protective injunctions, Baker Act commitments, and sheriff’s levies pursuant to court judgments, and voluntary surrender by the owner or custodian of the firearm.
(r) Noncriminal records relating to the receipt, storage or return of firearms, including, but not limited to, records relating to firearms impounded for storage or safekeeping, receipts proving that a firearm was returned to the rightful owner and supporting records of identification and proof of ownership, or records relating to firearms impounded pursuant to levies or court orders, provided, however, that such records shall not be compiled, sorted, or otherwise arranged into any lists, indexes, or registries of firearms or firearms owners.
(a) Any person who, or entity that, violates a provision of this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) Except as required by the provisions of s. 16, Art. I of the State Constitution or the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, no public funds shall be used to defend the unlawful conduct of any person charged with a violation of this section, unless the charges against such person are dismissed or such person is determined to be not guilty at trial. Notwithstanding this paragraph, public funds may be expended to provide the services of the office of public defender or court-appointed conflict counsel as provided by law.
(c) The governmental entity, or the designee of such governmental entity, in whose service or employ a list, record, or registry was compiled in violation of this section may be assessed a fine of not more than $5 million, if the court determines that the evidence shows that the list, record, or registry was compiled or maintained with the knowledge or complicity of the management of the governmental entity. The Attorney General may bring a civil cause of action to enforce the fines assessed under this paragraph.
(d) The state attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction shall investigate complaints of criminal violations of this section and, where evidence indicates a violation may have occurred, shall prosecute violators.
(5) ELECTRONIC RECORDS.—Secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers who electronically submit firearms transaction records to the appropriate law enforcement agencies as required by chapters 538 and 539 shall submit the name of the manufacturer and caliber information of each firearm in Florida Crime Information Center coding, and shall include the model and serial number of each firearm.
(6) CONSTRUCTION.—This section shall be construed to effectuate its remedial and deterrent purposes. This section may not be construed to grant any substantive, procedural privacy right or civil claim to any criminal defendant, and a violation of this section may not be grounds for the suppression of evidence in any criminal case.
History.—s. 1, ch. 2004-59; s. 9, ch. 2006-201; s. 1, ch. 2009-229.
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