Florida Gun Crimes and Responsible Gun Ownership

The spate of recent gun-related homicides in Broward and Palm Beach counties are becoming less an aberration and more the norm, according to a recent investigative report by the Center for Public Integrity.
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Our Fort Lauderdale defense lawyers understand that while overall homicides and violent crimes are down, murders committed with guns have spiked nearly 40 percent in the last 10 years, from 499 in 2000 to nearly 700 in 2011.

We don’t have completed figures for 2012. But we do know that in the first six months of the year, 358 of the 479 homicides reportedly involved a firearm – and that was also an 8 percent increase from the same time frame in 2011.

In fact, while firearms were used in 56 percent of all Florida homicides in 2000, they now are reportedly involved in three-quarters of all murders.

Not all of those are necessarily unjustifiable.

Take for example the recent case of a Pompano Beach man who fatally shot a home intruder after being followed home from a local night club. The man said there hadn’t been any angry words exchanged. The intruder followed him into his home shortly after 5 a.m., brandished a gun and demanded his jewelry. Rather than hand it over, he chose to act in self defense, and the would-be robber ended up dead.

Police have not yet decided whether they will file any charges or whether they will concede that the act was indeed in self-defense.

That situation, though, may be in the minority.

In homicide cases involving firearms, our defense lawyers will often seek to challenge whatever witness statements there may be, ballistics evidence, blood samples, motive and other aspects of the state’s case. It truly will depend on the exact circumstances of the case, but know this: We recognize that when you are facing a homicide charge, only the most experienced and most aggressive criminal defense will do. We take that responsibility very seriously, and we spare no effort.

The CPI’s recent report gives no solid answers for why gun crimes may be increasing so dramatically. But we do know that Floridians own more firearms than they did just 10 years ago. We know that the state’s “Stand Your Ground,” as well as the accessibility of concealed carry permits create more opportunity for gun crime. And of course we recognized the rights of gun owners and the fact that thousands of responsible gun supporters should not be penalized for the actions of a few.

The number of people applying for background checks to obtain firearms has shot up – from less than 300,000 in 2004 to more than 800,000 in 2012. From January to March of this year alone, another 300,000 applied for a background check.

That’s not to say that every gun crime involves a firearm that is legitimately obtained, but the vast majority of those who apply for a gun permit in Florida are successful – more than 98 percent.

Florida is slower than other states in terms of submission of mental illness records to the primary federal database, and unlike a number of other states, Florida does not review those permits later to determine if gun owners are later disqualified due to felony convictions or mental illness.

Simply carrying a firearm illegally carries its own significant penalties. However, if you are accused of illegally using that firearm, call our experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible.

If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
Pompano man says he shot, killed would-be robber in self-defense, April 30, 2013, By Mike Clary and Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel
As firearm ownership rises, Florida gun murders increase, April 23, 2013, By Eric Barton, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, The Center for Public Integrity
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