Florida is Re-examining its Concealed Carry Laws
In Florida, CCW permits are handled by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to ensure that the process is supervised by elected officials who are held responsible by voters. However, this could soon change now that Democrat Nikki Fried has been elected as Agriculture Commissioner in the state. Democrat and Republican politicians in the state both want to move the concealed carry permit program to another department; however, the question of which department the program should be moved to is a controversial one that could affect the fortunes of nearly 2 million concealed carry permit holders in the Sunshine State.
What are the Options?
Nikki Fried, along with at least some of her Democrat counterparts, specifically want the permitting process removed from the hands of elected officials so the process of obtaining a permit is not influenced by political concerns. Their proposal is to have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to handle concealed carry permits. Democrat State Senator Lauren Book has already filed a bill in the state Senate to move the CCW permitting process to the FDLE; however, no companion bill has been introduced in the state house and there is no indication that Sen. Book's bill will actually become law.
The NRA, on the other hand, is concerned about the implications of having non-elected officials handle the concealed carry permitting process as such officials could implement gun control measures without being held accountable by the general public. The organization is also concerned about the possibility of gun control measures being enacted as the new Agriculture Commissioner has publicly stated that she will do a "deep dive" into the CCW permit regulations and there is a very real possibility that she will make it more difficult for CCW permit applicants to gain approval.
Given these facts, the NRA is promoting the idea of having Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis handle CCW applications in the future. Florida's CFO is duly elected by members of the general public and can thus be held accountable for his or her actions; what is more, Mr. Patronis is in favor of gun rights.
Who Will Decide?
It is up to Florida's state lawmakers to decide who will run the concealed carry permitting process. At present, Republicans have a majority in Florida's Senate and House of Representatives, which means there is a good possibility the matter will be resolved in a manner that makes it easy for Florida residents to continue applying for concealed carry permits. The issue is likely to be taken up in 2019. Given this fact, it is inevitable that new Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who will take office on January 8, 2019, will keep control of the permitting process for some time and this could result in Florida residents facing difficulties or delays when applying for a concealed carry permit.