December 11, 2014: Procedure To Concealed Carry in Florida

There are a couple of methods to obtain a “Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearm License”.  That is Florida’s cumbersome name for the more commonly called CWL  (Concealed Weapons License) or CWP (Concealed Weapons Permit).  Don’t let the “OR” in the name make you think you have to decide which you want to conceal, a weapon or a firearm.  In Florida, it is one license. 

Ultimately information is sent to Tallahassee for review by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  You can either put the package together yourself or go to a regional office and have the package assembled by them in one place. Going through the Regional office is the Departments Fast Track Process.  I also went this route thinking that my chances of having my application suspended during the 90 days the state has to process it would be less than mailing it on my own and possibly messing something up.  I know there was a problem with my mom because there was a problem with her fingerprint card.  She had to have it redone and resubmitted. The requirements and procedure to lawfully bear (and I thought this was a natural right enumerated in the Second Amendment) in the State of Florida is laid out on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services web site: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Licensing/Concealed-Weapon-License I decided to use the regional office in Tampa since it is close to me and I could do the application, notary, finger printing and photo all in one place. I called the Tampa Regional Office on Monday October 6, 2014 and was given a choice of times starting on October 17, 2014.  The Customer Service Professional with whom I spoke was excellent.  She went through some basic questions told me to bring 3 things to the Office at the appointment time.

  1. Government issued ID.
  2. A Certificate from my qualifying training course.
  3. A check, money order or credit or debit for $112. They do not accept American Express or Discover. I recommend a check or money order. Debit and credit cards take another step.

On October 17 I arrived and was lucky to find a parking space on the East side of the building.  Checked in at the security desk and was directed to the 7th floor, room 712. After checking in and turning over my documents, which were copied and returned, I waited until a group of 5 of us was called together and taken to an adjacent room and sat down at terminals to fill out the application.  Once done it was printed and I returned to my seat. The certificate for qualifying training in Florida is pretty broad.  Any NRA course.  Any course taught by an NRA Certified Instructor, etc. The next step is being called to have fingerprints done electronically.  Very slick process and you see them being generated.  Next Verification then the picture that will be imprinted on the card.  Total time in the office was about forty five minutes. The spectrum of humanity was in that office applying for licenses.  From a college student, couples (young and not so young), former military, and a gray haired close cropped grizzled looking near senior citizen (oh wait, that was me).  During the time I was there, there were only a couple of more men than women.  As a group you could not say that we were all White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants. The staff seemed to be down at least one person.  But they were working to get everyone through and the applicants were all civil and well behaved. On November 12, 2014 I received a letter from the Department of Agriculture with my CONCEALED WEAPON OR FIREARM LICENSE for the State of Florida.  About 5 weeks from the first phone call to set up the appointment Along with the license was a sheet of information about Reciprocity with other States. BEWARE, be very AWARE of the laws in your state AND neighboring states or states you will travel through.  You won’t want to make a mistake and end up being prosecuted and facing jail time like Shaneen Allen. It would be great if the 50 State legislatures could agree on terms of reciprocity so that law-abiding citizens could exercise their right to defend themselves no matter where they travel in the country. I believe there are some reasonable restrictions, after all even before the Revolution loaded firearms were not allowed in Taverns. Along with the license is a summary of prohibited places where violations will get you more than a trespass citation. Read it. Reread it and then go read the Florida Statutes that are referenced. You also need to become familiar with 776.031 (legal use of force, not deadly force), 776.013 (castle doctrine), 766.013(3) (stand your ground), 776.032 (civil liability immunity). You will also need to know what “Forcible Felonies” are (776.08) because they provide justification for use of deadly force. Lots of statues that define what is considered reasonable in the state of Florida. There are two ways you are at risk if you carry and use a concealed firearm, Criminal and Civil. I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Did you realize you would need some legal training along with your firearms training? Look into legal seminars focused on firearms laws in Florida and you may want to investigate legal insurance. I’m just sayin’. To buy a gun in Florida requires a background check initiated by the selling Federally Licensed Firearms dealer to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) cost $5.  The FDLE has 3 days to provide an answer (24 working hours).  Florida is a Point of Contact state and thus performs their own background checks.  Black Friday 2014 was the third busiest day for background checks as reported by the FDLE. Concealed License holders are not subject to the Florida State requirements but are still subject to the Federal background check.  After my name is verified not to be on any of the Federal or State criminal or mental health bad guy lists, then I’m allowed to make the purchase. As of September 30, 2014, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing, reports a Total number of all Weapon or Firearms Licensees at 1,508,680.  Of these, 1,318,952 are Type “W” for Concealed Weapon or Firearm.  The next closest in numbers is the Type “D” Security Officers. The United States Census Bureau estimates the population or Florida in 2013 was 19,522,860.  They also estimate the percentage of the population under 18 years to be 20.6%.  The data for 18 to 21 year olds was not presented so the actual potential license holders will be less. Crunching the numbers yields: (19,522,860 – (19,522,860 * 20.6%)) / 1,508,680 = 15,501,151/1,508,680 = 10.27 adults per 1 CWL Allowing some reduction for the 18 to 21 year olds there might be one in a dozen citizens with a concealed carry permit in Florida.

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