Even if Florida police spotted alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz walking down the street with an AR-15 assault rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition, there’s not a damn thing they could have done about it. It’s all perfectly legal in the deadly Sunshine state.
Florida: Where Anybody Can Buy a Gun Here is an outline of Florida gun laws.
- Floridians don’t need a permit or license to buy a gun
- Firearms don’t need to be registerd
- No permit is needed to carry a concealed rifle or shotgun
- Anyone can buy as many guns as they want at one time; Florida doesn’t regulate sales
- Gun sellers don’t need a license to sell firearms
- Florida does not have a three-day waiting period to buy a gun.
- Assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines are sold without limits
Florida has absolutely no restrictions on gun purchases. Anyone can buy any type of gun and own enough ammunition to start a war–or shoot up a school.
In fact the right to own guns is codified in the Florida State Constitution. The language even goes beyond rights established in the Second Amendment to the U.S Constitution.
Under Florida law, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed…” according to its Constitution.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution limits gun ownership to participation in a “well regulated militia.” A 2008 Supreme Court ruling (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570) severed that requirement from gun ownership.
Significantly, the high court ruled that the Second Amendment authorized gun ownership for “home protection” only. The court specifically stated that other gun control measures, such as a ban on assault weapons and limits on ammunition, are lawful.
Even so, states have taken it upon themselves to expand gun ownership rights beyond Heller, and none have gone as far as Florida.
Despite being heavily armed, Cruz only broke one law before his shooting rampage. Schools in Florida are designated “gun free” zones. Carrying a gun on school property is grounds for arrest. But by then it was too late.
He barged into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students and teachers. More than 50 were wounded.
Cruz had no problem buying an arsenal of guns even though he had repeatedly demonstrated mental instability and had been expelled from school for causing trouble.
His social media accounts were filled with photos of guns and statements about his desire to become a “school shooter.” Both Florida police and the FBI were aware of the comments, but were powerless to confiscate Cruz’s guns.
Stanford Law professor John Donahue, who studied gun violence in America, found “not even the slightest hint” that right-to-carry laws reduce overall violent crime, according to CNN.
Citizens are at a higher risk for homicide, “particularly firearm homicide” in homes, cities, states and regions in the United States with a high incidence of gun ownership, according to the Harvard University School of Public Health.
President Trump’s first year in office was the deadliest for mass killings in more than a decade, according to USAToday.
The First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, left 26 people dead, bringing the total number of people killed in mass shootings to 208 this year, according to the newspaper. Last year, 188 people died in similar attacks.
The mass shooting in Las Vegas in October left 58 people dead and 546 injured. It raised alarm bells about so-called “bump-stocks.” The shooter used such a device to turn a semi-automatic assault rifle into an automatic weapon.
So far, Congress has yet to outlaw the device. Bump stocks still remain legal throughout the United States, or taken any other steps to protect Americans from random gun violence.