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Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

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Gun group fires lawsuit at Nikki Fried over concealed permits

Agriculture Commissioner called Young Americans for Liberty ‘obscure right-wing fringe’

The gun-rights group Young Americans for Liberty sued Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried claiming she’s depriving Floridians of their rights. The suit aims to lift a suspension of online concealed weapons permit applications.

“Nikki Fried thinks that your right to self-defense is negotiable. She’s wrong,” said Cliff Maloney, YAL President. “This is a blatant disregard for the rule of law, and I will not idly sit by while Nikki Fried uses this crisis to enact her gun-grabbing agenda. I encourage all Americans to join this fight for our rights. We either believe in liberty in times of crisis or we do not believe in liberty at all.”

Fried has defended her move vigorously, repeatedly noting permits continue to be processed, but the online mechanism cannot be used right now because of issues such as fingerprint collection during a pandemic.

“Commissioner Fried has not restricted processing of concealed weapons license applications; on the contrary, our department has processed more than 54,000 concealed weapons license applications since March 1, with an average review time of just 1 to 2 days,” said Franco Ripple, Fried’s Communications Director.

“Despite misinformation from special interest groups, we are continuing to process both new applications and renewals timely, and Commissioner Fried has also issued emergency orders extending expiring licenses by 90 days.”

Maloney’s group threatened litigation over the issue last month, saying the lone Democrat on Florida’s Cabinet was stalling with applications. The activist criticized her then for finding time to hold fundraisers but not to find a workaround on the fingerprint issue with online users.

Fried has since cited the potential lawsuit in a mass email to supporters. She suggested at the time she was simply following procedures that fell by the wayside with past Agriculture Commissioners. Former Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office notoriously stopped conducting proper background checks on such permits for a year because of a technical issue.

“They can’t handle that we’ve brought full accountability and background checks to Florida’s 2 million concealed weapons licenses while making the program more efficient,” Fried said in an email blast. Officials made clear the email included no fundraising appeals.

That message, which the National Rifle Association dismissed as a “whine,” also appeared to allude to YAL as an “an obscure right-wing fringe group.”

Maloney cited the slight in his own news release announcing the lawsuit.

The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence came to Fried’s defense this week.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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