A gun rights group threatened to sue Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for suspending online applications for concealed weapons permits.
Young Americans for Liberty sent a letter demanding Fried stop “infringing” on the rights of Floridians.
“This is a politically motivated attempt by Commissioner Fried to exploit the COVID-19 crisis and restrict the rights of Floridians,” said YAL President Cliff Maloney.
Fried announced on March 20 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing would delay concealed weapons license applications because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Fried has said it’s impossible to properly process certain parts of applications like fingerprints.
But more than a month later, Maloney said, it’s clear Fried, Florida’s only Democrat holding statewide office, is taking advantage of the situation.
“She found the time to host a fundraiser with Joe Biden but refuses to do her job and accept the online applications of law-abiding Floridians?” Maloney said.
“More than ever, Floridians need their rights protected so they can defend themselves and their families. I’m demanding Commissioner Fried reopen and approve online concealed weapons license applications immediately, or she can expect a lawsuit on her hands.”
The gun group isn’t the first to question Fried’s actions on concealed weapons permits. Attorney General Ashley Moody sent Fried a letter last week pointing to a lawsuit in Georgia and asserting Fried cannot suspend applications indefinitely.
“I understand that it is likely more difficult for Floridians to obtain fingerprints,” Moody wrote. “But those difficulties would equally exist for mailed-in applications, which your agency purports to still be accepting.”
Fried fired back at Moody that she was misinformed about the process.
“Contrary to the misinformation you may have seen, there is no delay in processing applications,” Fried wrote. “In fact, throughout these unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, our devoted Division of Licensing staff has processed 29,048 new applications and 25,742 renewal applications since March 1, with an average review time of 1 to 2 days.”
Maloney, though, said there’s no excuse for Fried’s office maintaining a moratorium on online applications. If that direction isn’t immediately revoked, he said his group will sue.
“Floridians do not need you to subjectively decide what will make us ‘frustrated’ and then arbitrarily eliminate a convenient and safe way to apply for a concealed weapons license,” Maloney wrote.
“Although you have closed all of your offices to the public, thus impeding the ability to obtain necessary fingerprinting directly from the Department, there are many local law enforcement agencies, including my own in Okaloosa County, which still continue to provide fingerprinting services to the public for the purpose of obtaining a concealed weapons license.”
“These local law enforcement agencies are ensuring the constitutional rights of Floridians are not infringed, while at the same time taking all necessary public health precautions.”