Florida county backlogged with concealed weapons permit appointments

Man with concealed carry permit application and pistol gun firearm Courtesy: Shutterstock – Photo by ja-images

In June, Florida Insider covered a story about the rise in screenings for background checks for gun purchases in the state. In the week following George Floyd’s death, Florida processed more than twice the number of background checks than it did in the same week in 2019.

Fast forward to now, some counties in Florida are reporting delays for concealed weapons permit appointments. 

According to Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder, from July 2020 – July 2021, the county is on track to see a 45 percent spike in new licenses.

To be eligible for a Florida concealed weapon or firearm license, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has the following minimum requirements:

  • You must be 21 years of age or older
  • You must demonstrate competency with use and care for a   firearm
  • Unless you are serving overseas in the United States Armed Forces, you must currently reside in the United States and be a U.S. citizen or deemed a lawful permanent resident alien by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. If you are serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces, submit a copy of your deployment documentation with your application. Those who are Resident Aliens must provide a valid Permanent Resident Alien card.

Reasons for ineligibility range from felony convictions, DUI incidents, a record of drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness institution record, not passing the firearm proficiency course, etc.

The process for obtaining a concealed weapons license in the state is as follows:

  • Take a gun safety and competency course (about 1 workshop day)
  • Schedule an appointment for fingerprint scan, picture taken, and application processing 
  • Submit proper documentation highlighted on application to Florida Department of Agriculture for background check and processing
  • Wait 90 day period for processing before notice of approval or denial

“We have gone from people waiting about 2 weeks to now people waiting 60 days to get an appointment even though we have doubled the amount of appointment slots,” said Tedder.

Polk County is on track to process 4,200 more permit applications than average. 

The increase in applications is undoubtedly a result of months of civil unrest, and post-election results fear. Pair the backup of the number of applications with the fear and temporary closing of all Division of Licensing (DOL) regional offices due to COVID-19 since March, and you get a bottleneck effect. 

The first regional office to open was in Tallahassee in mid-June. Slowly, more and more offices have been opening across the state as the number of cases decreased; however, that number is again rising.

As of October 2021, there are 66,782 concealed weapons license holders in Polk County and just over 2.2 million holders in Florida. 

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