TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While it's common knowledge that the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, there are hundreds of federal, state and local laws regulating who can buy them, what kind, where they can be carried and where they cannot.
To sort out the laws, we found a Florida attorney who wrote the book on the subject: Jon Gutmacher.
"My expertise is firearms, weapons and self-defense law. There's not much that I don't know about it," said Gutmacher, author of Florida Firearms: Law, Use & Ownership. "We're a very friendly state in the sense that we're pro gun and pro self-defense. But we're very Draconian.... If you do anything wrong, we're going to throw you into the deepest ocean and tie cement around you."
When asked about common misconceptions gun owners hold in our state, Gutmacher went right to what he called "The world's stupidest law."
"One of the common misconceptions is with people who live in condominiums," Gutmacher said. "If you're a condo owner, you can't walk from condominium to your car with a gun."
Gutmacher says you can have a gun in your condo and a gun properly stored or locked up in your car, but you can't walk with the gun to or from either without exposing yourself to a criminal charge.
Gutmacher says the other huge misconception concerns warning shots –- a high-profile issue after Jacksonville's Marissa Alexander argued she fired a warning shot at her husband. When that claim was denied and she was convicted, then faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.
"That means you serve every day of the 20 years," Gutmacher said. "I've actually seen judges apologize to people. 'Sir, sorry, you don't deserve this, but I have no choice,' Those are the situations you get in."
Gutmacher goes on to describe current law on warning shot laws. Gutmacher believes that you legally can't fire a warning shot, unless you could actually shoot the person between the eyes.
"A lot of times they're OK because if they could have shot the guy, didn't want to shoot the guy, thought a warning shot would stop everything. Fine. But (there) are also the cases where you find the (state attorney offices) a lot of times prosecuting somebody because, 'no you shouldn't have fired a warning shot.' You're looking at it after the fact."
Gutmacher says concealed weapons permit holders generally know more about the law because they've taken simple training to acquire their license.