Bill seeks to cut waiting time for firearm purchases

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House Bill HB 17, which would eliminate a mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases, is in place for the upcoming legislative session.

HB 17 aims to reduce the waiting period, potentially making it faster for a law-abiding citizen to obtain firearms. In this day and age, the mandatory waiting period is three business days between the purchase and the possession of a firearm.

The bill would streamline the process of purchased firearms by reducing the waiting period, it may make it more convenient for law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms for various purposes, such as self-defense or sports.

HB 17 also changes when the waiting period expires; It states that the waiting period expires upon the completion of a required background check. This suggests that once a background check is complete and the individual is deemed eligible to purchase a firearm, the waiting period would end immediately.

Florida Representative Dr. Joel Rudman, R-Navarre, is HB 17’s sponsor. He told the Famuan that Florida’s background check system is significantly slower than other states such as California.

“These are the same folks whose background checks used to take three days, are now taking six months to a year, two years, and so to us, that’s an infringement [upon] someone’s right,” Rudman said.

He believes that government agencies take too long to complete tasks due to excessive bureaucracy.

To purchase a firearm in Florida an individual must meet certain eligibility criteria, including being at least 21 years old. An individual must also be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Next, Florida requires a background check for all firearm purchases, which is conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A person of interest must complete a Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473) and provide needed identification at the time of purchase. Once completed the Federal Firearms License Dealer will submit the paperwork.

Rudman said the ones who are affected the most during this process are the gun-shop owners. They face backlash from customers due to the delayed background checks. “Firearms dealers in the district received a lot of push back from customers. The customers do not get mad and call for the Department of Law Enforcement; they get mad and call the dealer,” Rudman said, “and to the [company] stakeholders this bill would really benefit the dealer.”

Rudman says that Florida Business Leaders of America has more than enough time to conduct a reasonable background check to be sure that they don’t fit in the category where they’re not allowed to purchase a firearm.

“I think waiting that long is more than sufficient for them to do a proper and thorough investigation,” Rudman said.

JD Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer at Talon Range in nearby Midway, said this bill will not negatively affect his business. If anything, “It may positively affect my business, because there’s some people that get absolutely perturbed and that’s a silly thing.”

HB 17 is basically a piggy back on Florida’s “Constitutional Carry Law,” which went into effect this summer. It allows citizens to carry a firearm in public without a concealed weapon permit.

If approved, HB 17 would go into effect in July 2024.