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Signed into law in 1987, Florida’s concealed weapon or firearm license permits citizens to carry and conceal their handgun; the other weapons included in this law are electronic weapons or devices, tear gas guns, billies and knives.
Since being implemented, there has been additional legislation in regards to the valid term limit for a license holder. On June 11th, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 954 into state law. This new legislation extended the original five-year term limit to seven years, and it also required that all applicants must be residents of the United States, citizen or a permanent resident alien. This legislation only applied to licenses that were issued on June 11th, 2008 or after.
After the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 954 in 1999, Governor Bush signed the state’s new reciprocity agreement into law. This legislation permitted out-of-state residents to carry their concealed weapons in the state of Florida. However, In order for the individual to carry, their state must also recognize concealed weapons or firearms from Florida residents. This is to ensure that Florida residents can retain their own concealed firearm privileges in other states.
There are several eligibility requirements that must be met before an applicant is issued the Florida concealed weapon or Firearm license. All prospective applicants must be at least 21-years of age; however, service members can be a minimum age of 18-years. Unless an individual is currently serving overseas, all applicants must currently reside in the United States and be a citizen or lawful permanent resident alien.
If a prospective applicant is indeed serving in the air force of overseas, they must submit a copy of their deployment paperwork with their application. Applicants who aren’t citizens but lawful permanent residents must show the required documentation that proves their status, and they must have at least 90-days of residency prior to filling out the application.
In order to move forward with the process, applicants must have proof of their competency to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. There are a variety of routes available to obtain a completion certificate of completion. Applicants may choose from the following options:
- A hunter’s safety and education course approved by Florida’s Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- The National Rifle Association’s training courses
- Any firearm safety or training classes that are made available to the public. These may be offered by law enforcement agencies, firearm training schools, public classes lead by certified NRA instructors, courses approved by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission or Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
- Approved training courses led by security guards, special deputies, investigators and other divisions of law enforcement.
After a safety and training course is completed, an applicant must receive a clear and legible certificate or similar documentation. The certificate must include the applicant’s name, the instructor’s name, the instructor’s qualifications and accompanying credentials. Other accepted forms of completion include documentation of firearm experience through organized shooting competitions. All active-duty serviceman must submit documents to confirm their firearm competency acquired during service. Service members may also opt to submit a signed statement from a personnel officer, unit commander or any higher officer that can attest to their competency. As well, former service members may submit a DD Form 214 that proves their honorable discharge from the military.
In addition to strict eligibility requirements, there are several disqualifying factors as well. Technically, people with felony convictions are prohibited from obtaining a concealed weapon or firearm license; however, an individual convicted of an in-state felony may be eligible if their civil and firearms rights were restored by the Florida Office of Executive Clemency. Those with a federal felony conviction are otherwise ineligible unless they have received a presidential pardon.
Certain misdemeanor crimes can also render an applicant ineligible for the license. Individuals convicted of domestic violence are disqualified from applying unless they have received a presidential pardon, their court record was sealed or expunged or have received relief from federal firearm disabilities.
If an applicant has a past juvenile record, their past crimes may also render them ineligible. Applicants who are 24-years or younger will not be eligible to apply if their crime would’ve been a felony or if they were tried as an adult; this applies to out-of-state juvenile crimes as well.
Crimes relating to alcohol and substance abuse will present some disqualifiers for the license. If an individual has been committed to an in-patient facility for substance abuse, been convicted of possession under Florida’s Chapter 898 statute, been ruled as a repeat offender or been convicted of using a firearm while intoxicated, they’re ineligible to apply. If these events occurred more than three years prior to the application, they may be qualified to move forward with the license.
Any individual who has a clinically diagnosed mental defect, been ruled as incapacitated or committed to a mental institution is prohibited from applying. Service members who were dishonorably discharged from the military are immediately disqualified from acquiring the license. Individuals with restraining orders, fugitives and those with physical impairments that would affect proper firearm use are restricted from holding the license.
Once an applicant has confirmed their eligibility, they can prepare their entire application for their new concealed weapon or firearm license. Along with all the proper citizenship and training documentation, applicants must submit a complete set of fingerprints, a passport-style color photograph, pay the accompanying $70 fee and pay an additional $42 for the fingerprinting. All fees are nonrefundable and must be in the form of a money order or check.
Once an application is completed and submitted, there is a 90-day wait time; wait times may be extended due to the department workload or any issues pertaining to the application. Incomplete applications, illegible fingerprints, and inconclusive background checks will suspend the 90-day wait period until the issues are resolved.
If a concealed weapon or firearm license is no more than 6-months expired, the license holder is eligible to renew their license with an additional $60 renewal fee. A $15 late fee is mandatory for licenses not renewed by the very date of expiration.