Carrying a firearm, normally classified into three types which are handguns, riffles and short guns, in United States, which as of 2009 had a population of 307 million people, is no big deal. This is because of the campaign by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the leading gun-owners lobby in the U.S after finding out that in the last two years, 24 states especially those from the West and South had passed 47 new laws which were meant to loosen gun restrictions. It is known from firearm manufacturers that roughly 300million firearms were owned by civilians in the U.S in the year 2010. Of these population, 100 million people possessed handguns.
October 1, 1987, Florida State, also nick-named Sunshine State, got the right under the law to carry firearm like the other states in the United States. This law for concealed carry license was meant to those people who had 21 years and above and should posses clean criminal record/ health records and complete firearms safety/ training course Brown, (2011). Habitual drunkards' are also prohibited and he is not currently under any injunction restraining the applicant from acts of domestic violence or repeated acts of violence.
Under Florida law, there is no "duty to retreat" if you are attacked in any place you have a lawful right to be. Instead, you may stand your ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others (Nytimes, 1997). However, although the gun is widely believed that it would be used to prevent bodily harms by other people if not taken care by the owners they might be accessed by someone else who would use them to harm others.
With this law in place, as of July 31, 2010, Florida has issued 1,825,143 permits and has 746,430 active licensees, constituting roughly 5.4% of the state's population that is 21 years of age or older (James D. Agresti and Reid K. Smith, 2010). With this right in place, the murder rate in Florida has gone low with an average of 36% than it was before the Florida right-to- carry law was allowed while the U.S murder rate has averaged 15% lower.
This issue has provoked Florida gun right discussion since ever. Its being noted that, open carry of firearms would be restored to the Florida citizens under SB 234. This could turn out to be a license privilege to the civilians of Florida. In the current law, its known that citizens are only allowed to carry firearms at their residential places, their business places, at a range or when going to, coming from, and during a hunting, camping or fishing expeditions, regardless of license. It is known that, there are 43 states which open carry is legal. For this reason, one of the organizations, which are Florida Open Carry, has been in the forefront to organize Open carry fishing events in most of the places throughout the state in a view of promoting and publicizing the practice. To achieve this goal, the passing of SB 234 would permit current and future concealed carry license to conceal at their option.
Other changes which are meant to take huge turn around is SB 234 permitting lawful concealed carry on court rooms a part from the judges who are the only people allowed to carry firearms in courts, college campuses, career centers and private schools. Most citizens are not comfortable with students carrying guns to their schools, this is because to them, no single day guns and school work has ever mixed but the biggest disadvantage is, criminals have turned deaf ears to that issue. However, although most citizens are comfortable with students carrying guns there are instances which the students misuse the guns and use them to settle scores with their fellow students, teachers or administrators in the schools.
Back in their minds, they know very well that, colleges or universities is a free zone from crime but the still take advantage of attacking school students in their institutions. This can be evidenced in what happened in one of the universities in the United States which is the Florida University in Tallahassee. Current restrictions being put in place has engulfed some fear among the students in terms of protection to and from campus since it is illegal to carry firearm in your car within the school compound. For changes to take effect, SB 234 are trying to see on the ways in which they will permit students, teacher or lecturers licensees to carry their firearms on campus (Nytimes, 1997).
The above proposals would also extend to other groups of elected officials that is for instant, if you're a County Commissioner, a school board member, or a county wide elected constitutional officer and you receive your permit to have a concealed carry permit, if this goes into law then you'll be able to carry that firearm into a number of areas that are prohibited.
In terms of parking, SB 234 states that a licensed concealed career is not suppose to be denied a chance to carry or store firearms in a vehicle for lawful purposes. Of late, the private property owners are the only ones allowed to prohibit firearms storage in vehicle on their property but they are protected through keeping their firearms in their automobile in a company parking lot when working within the premises, but customers and other visitors are not currently protected by law as those provisions were ruled unconstitionally vague.
The right to purchase firearms is also being put in to consideration. A bill provided by Senator Evers was meant to minimize the rights of purchasing the firearms in contiguous states. It is notted that Florida citizens are only allowed to purchase firearms from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. This has affected that state so much hence the provision of Senetor Evers bill which will allow the Florida people to purchase firearms from any state, so long as a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check is performed prior to purchase, and the laws and regulations of the state in which the transaction is made are fulfilled.
Technology has been embraced in Florida where by weapons/firearms license application and fingerprints scanning can be done electronically to avoid backlog of which its mission has been acheieved. This is done through Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS). All this achievement was done by SB 234 (Foxnews, 2011).
In summary, one needs to put in mind that, in Florida, it unlawful for:
One to have a firearm or to carry a concealed weapon if he or she has been a convict. One is allowed to carry one only if his civil rights have been stored.
Drug addicts, alcoholics, mental incompetents, and vagrants should not be allowed to carry any firearms
For persons to have in their care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition, one needs to be issued a current final injunction that is effective, restraining that person from committing acts of domestic violence.
Firearms should not be lend, sold or transferred to a minor under the age of 18 years without the permission of the parent or guardian.
A completed form is needed from the potential buyer or transferee and received approval from the Department of Law Enforcement by means of a toll-free telephone call in order to posses a firearm from a gun dealer, manufacturer .
Exempt from the instant check are licensed dealers, manufacturers, importers, collectors, persons with a concealed carrying license, law enforcement, correctional and correctional probation officers.
Unless covered under the exceptions, it is unlawful to openly carry on or about the person any firearm, or to carry a concealed firearm on or about the person without a license, except
- Persons having firearms at their home or place of business.
- Persons engaged in fishing, camping or hunting and while going to or from such activity.
In conclusion, According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics, as reported semi-annually and annually to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), there were 733 fewer crimes in 2010 than in 2009 in the Sheriff's Office primary jurisdiction. There were 12,111 crimes in 2009 as compared to 11,378 crimes in 2010. It was known that this was the lowest crime rate ever registered in Florida.
This can be attributed to the changes of the gun laws even though local law enforcement officials are being worried of these changes. Gainesville Police Department Corporal Tscharna Senn once quoted saying allowing guns to be carried openly would open the door for potential problems. "It's another opportunity for someone to use a firearm when that opportunity may not have been there before," she said. This has not been witnessed since the crime rate has already gone down.