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7 Things That Are Harder to Get Than an Assault Weapon

In Florida, it’s easier to obtain a gun than an abortion

Omar Mateen bought the assault rifle he used to kill 49 people at Pulse nightclub eight days before Sunday’s shooting. The owner of the store that sold him the gun, St. Lucie Shooting Center, said on Tuesday that Mateen passed a background check. (In Florida, a background check is essentially just a query of several databases to determine whether the buyer has any felony convictions, active warrants or domestic-violence injunctions.)

But that was it! There was no waiting period. Under Florida law, he did not need a permit to purchase or carry the rifle, nor a license to own it. 

Here are seven things that are harder to get in the state of Florida than an assault rifle.

1. An abortion
There is no waiting period in Florida to buy an assault rifle like the one Mateen used to kill 49 people Sunday, but a woman seeking to abort a pregnancy must undergo an ultrasound and receive in-person counseling — then wait 24 hours — before the service can be performed. (Also, fun fact: in Florida, it is illegal for your doctor to ask if you if you own a gun.)

2. A driver’s license
Under Florida law, you do not need a permit to purchase or carry an assault rifle, nor a license to own one. But Florida, like all U.S. states, does require anyone who operates a motor vehicle to have a driver’s license. To get one, you’ll have to provide a birth certificate or passport, proof of a Social Security number and two proofs of address. You have to take a four-hour Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education class, pass a written test and a driving test and log 50 hours behind the wheel (at least 10 of which must be at night).

3. Solar panels
If you absolutely need a SIG Sauer MCX assault rifle right now but don’t have the $2,058 to buy one, no sweat — many Florida gun stores offer layaway plans that will let you to pay the gun off in installments. If you want to buy solar panels though, you will have no such luck. To get panels, you have to pay the prohibitive cost upfront: those popular leasing programs available in other states are verboten in Florida. (As Tim Dickinson noted in Rolling Stone earlier this year, fewer than 9,000 Sunshine State homes have panels installed because of the restrictive state laws that favor the utility companies.)

4. Voter registration cards
You don’t need permission of any kind to buy an assault weapon in Florida, but if you want to host a voter registration drive you will need permission from the state. Under a 2011 the law, third-party voter registration groups like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, unions — anyone who collects voter cards — must return the them within 48 hours or face steep fines.

5. An exotic animal
To own a Class I exotic animal, such as a Komodo Dragon, in Florida you need to be able to demonstrate that you have at least one year and no fewer than 1,000 hours of experience “in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of the species” for which you are trying to obtain a permit. You’ll need proof too in the form of a written description, complete with dates and locations, of that experience. And that’s not all: You’ll also need two personal references as well as previous permits and employment records. Again, to get an assault rifle, you just need an ID and a (largely) clear criminal record.

6. A marriage license 
If you live in Florida and want to get married, but aren’t willing to take the encouraged four-hour premarital course, you’ll have to wait at least three days before your marriage license is valid. To review: three day-waiting period to get married, zero-day waiting period to purchase an assault rifle.

7. A handgun
In addition to the .233-caliber assault weapon that helped Mateen carry out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, he had a 9mm Glock 17 handgun as well. He could have left the store immediately with the former, but needed to wait three days to pick up the latter because Florida law imposes a mandatory waiting period on any firearm “capable of being carried and used by one hand.” The waiting period does not apply to guns that you need two hands to hold, like the Sig Sauer MCX. Some additional caveats apply: You don’t need to wait three days if you trade in one handgun for another, or if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Mateen, who worked as a security guard, did, but the owner of the St. Lucie Shooting Center said he observed the waiting period nonetheless.

Find out five laws designed to prevent people like Orlando gunman Omar Mateen from being able to carry out acts of violence.

In This Article: Abortion, Gun control

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