Nikki Fried is the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, and one of her jobs is to oversee the state’s concealed carry licensing system. Fried is also the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida, but since elected in 2018 she’s not introduced any big overhaul to the concealed carry process that would impact legal gun owners. That could soon change, unfortunately.

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is asking the state legislature to implement sweeping changes to the concealed carry process in Florida.

She wants to keep fingerprints for concealed carry holders on file for five years and also reduce the renewal period from seven to five years.

In addition she wants to require applicants take a concealed carry course each time they renew their license, not just when they first apply.

This sounds like a money grab more than an effort to boost public safety. Florida has around 2-million concealed carry licensees, and forcing them to renew every five years instead of every seven years would generate millions dollars in fees for state. Fried’s proposal to require a concealed carry course with every renewal wouldn’t necessarily put more money in state coffers, but it would lead to concealed carry holders forking over more money to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Fried says she wants to simply ensure the safety of concealed carry holders by requiring the coursework with every renewal.

“If you have gone through a course one year and then you’ve waited five or seven years, haven’t picked up your gun again, haven’t cleaned it, haven’t gone back to the range your likelihood of you harming yourself if you need it increases,” said Fried.

Honestly, that explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Let’s say that a Floridian (we’ll call him Mickey) gets his concealed carry license, then doesn’t pick up his gun for seven years. If Mickey even bothers to renew his concealed carry permit, he’s likely to continue to not pick up his gun. What good will repeating the course do for Mickey?

If, on the other hand, Mickey is like most concealed carry licensees, he’ll be carrying his firearm throughout the seven years that his license is valid. He may even choose to get additional training and education on his own. But making Mickey repeat the course when he already knows the subject matter is a waste of his time and money.

Fried isn’t the only politician in Florida proposing changes to the state’s concealed carry system. State Rep. Al Jacquet wants individuals applying for a concealed carry license to have a doctor’s note that states the applicant “doesn’t have any serious mental illness”, which is (no pun intended) a crazy thing to require.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who runs the concealed-weapons permit program, said she welcomed Jacquet’s “contribution” to the debate but didn’t commit to it when asked about a mental health examination for a concealed weapons permit.

“If we’re gong to make an honest effort to take on the issue of gun violence, all ideas need to be considered – everyone deserves a seat at the table for this discussion,” said Fried.

The good news for Florida gun owners is that any proposal by Fried or anti-gun lawmakers like Jacquet are going to have to be approved by the legislature, which has Republican majorities in both chambers. The bad news for Florida gun owners is that those same lawmakers passed a “red flag” law in 2018, which means they may be amenable to further erosions of the right to keep and bear arms in the legislative session that begins in January.