TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced last week that the Florida Concealed Weapon and Firearm License Program at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will issue its one millionth valid concealed weapon and firearm license this week – just days following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Fashion Island in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday.
“In 1987, Florida issued its first statewide concealed weapon license after the Florida Legislature established standardized and uniform requirements for the issuance of a concealed weapon license,” said Commissoner Putnam. “Twenty-five years later, the state of Florida has issued nearly one million valid concealed weapon and firearm licenses.”
According to Commissioner Putnam, as of last Thursday, Florida’s Concealed Weapon and Firearm Program is made up of 997,066 valid license holders. At the current rate of processing applications, the department is expected to issue the one millionth valid license this week.
Commissioner Putnam pointed to the exponential increase in applications for concealed weapon or firearm licenses over the last decade. Fiscal Year 2009-2010 was a record year after President Barack Obama was elected to his first term in office, with 167,240 applications received. Just ten years prior, 28,618 applications were received during Fiscal Year 1999-2000.
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., the Obama Administration is floating the idea of reinstating the assault weapons ban. “The President, as you know, has long supported reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. And as the President has said, and I just said, this is a complex problem that requires complex and a variety of solutions,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during a White House press briefing on Monday. “The fact is we have taken steps to improve background checks, which goes at the issue of preventing those who should not have guns from acquiring them. But as you heard the President say last night, we all need to do more.”
“We must change. We must take more action and greater action to address this problem, because we have not adequately, in his view, taken care of our first priority, which in this case was protecting our children,” Carney added. “So he’s committed himself, as you heard him last night say, to using the power of his office to help bring about that change. And he will do that in a way that is inclusive because it requires more than a President; it requires more than gun laws and more than legislation. So he will engage in a process that encompasses a lot of different communities and potential actions.”
The identity of the individual who will be issued the one millionth license this week following the Connecticut shooting rampage by 20-year-old Adam Lanza will not be revealed as a result of action by the Florida Legislature in 2006 to exempt applicants and licensees from the disclosure provisions of Florida’s public records law.
“It is our responsibility to protect the identity of any individual who applies for a concealed weapon and firearm license. We have a strong record in protecting the privacy of licensees and I intend to uphold this reputation.”
Commissioner Putnam did, however, reveal statistics that indicate who the average license holder is; Four out of every five licensees are male, but with a growing interest among females. Nearly one-third of licensees are between ages 51 and 65.
The licensee population holds a responsible record over the 25-year history of the Florida Concealed Weapon and Firearm Program. While more than 2.3 million licenses have been issued, only 7,244 licenses (0.3%) have been revoked due to crime, illegal prints or legislative or clemency changes.
To meet the growing demand for licenses, the Florida Concealed Weapon and Firearm License Program has worked to simplify the application process and increase efficiencies in processing of applications. Upgrading technology in 1995, 1998 and 2004, improved the processing procedures. In 2002, the program provided fingerprint scanning devices to sheriffs’ offices to enable applicants to meet the requirements.
In 2009, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services introduced the “Fast Track” service, an opportunity for applicants to complete applications in person at one of eight regional offices throughout Florida. This year, the department extended the “Fast Track” service to renewal applicants. More than 60% of applicants take advantage of this easy and convenient application option.
The Florida Concealed Weapon and Firearm Program is operated at no cost to Florida taxpayers. The program is funded by fees for concealed weapon and firearm licenses.
The program was created by the Florida Legislature in 1987 and is defined by Florida Statutes.