Since 1987, when Florida paved the way for our modern concealed carry make-up in the United States, both resident and non-residents have received their CCWs. When the law came into effect, the permitting was handled by the Department of Agriculture, presumably to keep it out of potentially biased hands. The “gunshine state” has something coming down the pike that could completely shake up the permitting process as we know it in Florida, and legislation has been drafted to throw a little of that anti-civil rights bias into the process.
Traditionally being a trendsetter for gun rights, Florida has started to slip to a degree, as splashes of purple are dotting the state. Since 2018, a post-Parkland Florida has seen some changes to their laws, including a “red flag” law and prohibiting persons between the ages of 18 and 21 from purchasing long guns. This egregious attack on young adults’ abilities to protect themselves is subject to a court challenge by the NRA.
This session there’s a new bill in town. SB 1580, introduced by Senator Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones of the infamous Broward and Miami-Dade counties, aims to:
[Reduce] the term and fee of a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm; specifying that experience with a firearm through military service in the United States Armed Forces meets the requirement of demonstrating competence with a firearm; requiring the retention of fingerprints in specified systems; requiring a licensee, upon each renewal, to provide proof of completion of a firearms training or safety course or class meeting specified requirements, etc.
On the surface, this does not look like an awful proposal. The biggest thing noted is the reduction in amount of time a CCW is valid, but in turn they aim to also reduce the fee. Everything else seems fairly lock-step with the current provisions of the law. Take a deeper look at the bill, however, and you’ll find some troubling language:
Upon each renewal, a licensee must provide proof of completion of a firearms training or safety course or class at least 8 hours in length taught by a state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency or a nationally recognized organization that promotes gun safety. Completion of the training, course, or class must occur during the 6 months immediately before the license expiration…
Previously, the Department of Agriculture did not have such a narrowly defined statute concerning the required training. A class that included the actual live fire of a firearm taught by a certified instructor was sufficient to meet the needs. With this new provision, applicants are going to be locked into a minimum of 8 hours of training, and prior to renewal, show proof they have had training within six months of that date. The amount of time a permit is valid for would be reduced from seven years to five.
Mandatory training is a slippery slope, and forcing concealed carry holders to go through another carry course each time they want to renew their license is completely unreasonable.
Language concerning “out-of-state residents” is also stricken from the current law. The exact reason for this is not readily known but is in reference to fingerprinting requirements. Is it their aim to no longer issue non-resident permits?
The bill also includes some onerous requirements to be placed on any trainers that administer training in regards to their record-keeping and certificate issuance:
A photocopy of a certificate of completion with an affidavit from the instructor who conducted or taught such course or class attesting to the completion by the renewing licensee and the length of the course or class shall constitute evidence of qualification under this paragraph.
An instructor who conducts a course or class and attests to its completion must maintain records certifying that all the requirements for hours and training components in this paragraph were met and that the instructor observed the licensee safely handle and discharge the firearm in the instructor’s physical presence and that the discharge of the firearm included live fire using a handgun and ammunition as defined in s.251 790.001(19).
Nothing about this bill will serve the better good of the people of Florida. It’s simply a mechanism to add further bureaucratic hoops for applicants to jump through. The splash of honey that is the “fee reduction”, simply lowers it by $5.00.
Now is the perfect time to reach out to Senator Jones and voice discontent concerning the introduction of this bill. Contact all the members of the Florida legislature too! If you’re an out of state resident, make your voice be heard. The Florida concealed weapons permit has been a doorway to freedom for so many in the United States through reciprocity agreements and if this bill were to become law that door could soon slam shut.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii
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