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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Search Term Q&A: Keeping Records Comment
    Gregory Morris, 10/13/08 11:59:34 pm
    Question: "can florida gun shop owners keep records"

    Answer: Not only can they, but they are legally required to do so by Federal and State law. The real question should be, what kind of records may they keep, and how long may they keep it.

    First of all, I don't claim to be an expert on Federal Gun Laws. Anyone who does claim to be an expert is probably lying. All I know is that federally licensed firearms dealers have to keep all acquisition and disposition records for a certain amount of time. The BATFE can come and inspect those records if it needs to.

    The question at hand is about Florida state law. This is something I know a little more about. I am not an expert. Specifically am I a lawyer, so whatever I say here may or may not be correct.

    As I understand it, a state registry of guns or gun owners is strictly prohibited. In fact, if a local government were to keep a registry, those involved could actually be prosecuted for it. In addition, a record that indicates positively passing the mandatory background check for the purchase of a firearm, must be destroyed by both the state and the dealer immediately. That was put in place to prohibit any de facto or backdoor registrations. Of course, that doesn't affect the dealer's bound-book entry, which is subject to federal law, and is made available to law enforcement as needed (but which is not allowed to be collected into a centralized database.)

    The only gun-related lists that may be kept by the state are:
  • lists of guns that have been used in a crime
  • list of people prohibited from possessing firearms
  • lists of firearms reported stolen (although they must be removed from the list after they are found)
  • any information they may be required by the federal government to keep (e.g. bound books.)

    Generally these lists are required to be kept "clean".

    Gun shops may keep:
  • any information required by federal law
  • pawn-related transactions (pursuant to a completely different set of rules)
  • lists of customers, so long as they do not correlate names to firearm ownership
  • sales receipts proving credit for the purchase, provided said receipts are not used to create a firearm registration or database.

    There are lots of other reasons that lists of firearm owners may be kept, but they are all very specific. Florida has very strict and definite rules that make it illegal to ever keep, publish or otherwise release information about individual gun owners, except in VERY specific instances.

    There is, however, one portion of state law that is troubling, with regard to what records are kept. FL Statute 790.0655 provides that:
    records of handgun sales must be available for inspection by any law enforcement agency, as defined in s. 934.02, during normal business hours.
    This rule does not seem to override any of the other strict rules regarding the keeping of records. However, it seems to require a store registry of handgun sales, where all other state law would forbid such a registry.

    Unfortunately, this is just another one of the MANY inconsistencies in Florida's gun laws.

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