Florida’s Popular, but Controversial, Concealed and Carry Law

John Lott, a proponent of concealed and carry laws, takes issue with a recent report from the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center, which characterizes Florida as a hotbed of violence committed by persons with concealed a carry licenses.

He notes Florida currently has the most concealed handgun permit holders in the country and is one of the two most populous states with right-to-carry laws. Between Oct. 1, 1987, and May 31 this year, permits had been issued to 1.8 million people.

He further makes the claim that on average, the permits holders have had their licenses over 10 years. He then notes among "individuals [with] more than 22 years of legal carry, there were only 167 cases where the permit was revoked for a firearms related violation, or about 0.01 percent of permit holders."

He wants to the place the recent incidents in as large a statistical pool a possible, as this allows him to spread the revocations across all persons with the concealed and carry permit, and dilutes the numbers so he can arrive at the miniscule figure of 0.01 percent. He goes on to complain that:

"In sharp contrast, the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center portray Florida as Ground Zero for problems with concealed handgun permit holders. They boldly assert that 17 Florida permit holders have "killed" people with their guns over the past three years and that this one state by itself accounts for 17 of the 96 "killer" permit holders nationwide."

However, as he selectively goes over the incidents, he picks out the ones that appear least controversial. He complains the VPC report identifies a case where a man shot an off-duty Customs officer as not really a permit holder killing a law enforcement officer, since the customs officer was off-duty and it was possible to describe the killing as self-defense, thought the news reports are hardly clear.

At one point, Lott comments that many of the incidents resulted in no charges, implying the shooter did nothing wrong. He does not highlight the case of the stalker who killed his ex-girlfriend. He was not charged with a crime or prosecuted because he killed himself after shooting her. She might disagree with the ironic use of "killed" in quotes, as it appears Lott is suggesting she were not dead.

It is clear from the debate, there is no simple or easy answer. Many permit holders carry for years and never have any incidents; others become enmeshed in situations where deadly force is employed soon after they obtain the permit. Many feel they need the assurance carrying a firearm brings.

Additionally, the popularity of the Florida permit may in part be due to the fact you don't need to be a resident of Florida to obtain a Florida concealed and carry license. If you are a US resident, you may be eligible to obtain a Florida permit. With reciprocity laws, that permit would currently allow you to carry in 32 states, even if you can't carry in your home state.

Concealed and carry permits are issued by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing. The department maintains a 30-question eligibility guide on their website to allow persons to determine if they have any obvious reasons why they might be denied a permit.

Some of the basic eligibility requirements include:

You must be 21 years of age or older. You must be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm, (a basic firearms test usually qualify), you must currently reside in the United States (US) and be a US citizen or deemed a lawful permanent resident alien by Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The site also lists possible reasons for ineligibility, such as an arrest record, conviction for a felony, convictions for crimes of violence in the last three years, multiple DUIs in the last three years, domestic violence injunctions, a record of drug or alcohol abuse and being a fugitive from justice, among other items.

If you have been involved with any incident with a concealed and carry permit and have been questioned by law enforcement or arrested, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney, who can protect your rights and explain your options under the law.

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