State Rep. Javier Fernández filed legislation crafted with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to close loopholes in Florida’s gun laws.
The bill (HB 809) would require retention of fingerprint records in appropriate databases and call for proof of completion of appropriate firearms and safety training for a license to be renewed. The legislation also seeks to reduce the term for a concealed-weapons permit to five years instead of seven.
The reduction in term for a license would accompany a drop in cost as well, with the license fee going from $55 down to $40 and renewal costs dropping to $35.
Fried stressed the importance of the legislation to her office, which oversees gun licensing.
“Since taking office, we have fixed many of the concealed weapons program’s issues — increasing accountability by ensuing all background checks are completed, while improving efficiency in application processing times,” Fried said.
“But there’s still work to be done and ways we can enhance this program. Right now a dangerous loophole exists which could allow individuals who have committed felonies in other states to slip through the cracks — fingerprint retention will help solve this problem and keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. These program enhancements will allow us to build on our accountability and public safety initiatives, while ensuring the program functions efficiently.”
Fernández, a Miami Democrat, said its critical to clean up licensing in Florida.
“Commissioner Fried and I are committed to cleaning up the state’s concealed weapons program, while she has made great progress, legislative action is required to bring further improvements to the accountability and safety of the program,” he said.
“Right now, the potential disqualifying information of crimes committed out of state is a dangerous blind spot that this legislation will fix with a fingerprint retention system, helping keep weapons out of the wrong hands.”
Fried said a fingerprint database would prevent some dangerous convicted criminals who committed offenses in other states from obtaining licenses.
The licensing process came under intense fire during previous Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s tenure. A Tampa Bay Times investigation last year found the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under the Republican’s leadership effectively stopped reviewing concealed weapons permit applications in February 2016.
Fried, a Democrat, came into office promising oversight and said she has added substantial personal to ensure proper checks get conducted without slowing down application review times.