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erk
06-15-2009, 08:13
http://www.news-press.com/article/20090607/NEWS01/90606045/1075

June 7, 2009

They rush to get gun, wait for their permit

By Chris Umpierre
cumpierre@news-press.com
The mailroom has crates of unprocessed concealed-weapon permit applications. Every day, hundreds more arrive and the stacks of paperwork get that much higher.
Terry McElroy, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says his agency is so overwhelmed with concealed- weapon permit applications it doesn’t open packages until they’ve been in the mailroom for two months.

As a result, the department has an unprecedented backlog of 88,000 concealed-weapon permit applications. The backlog is fueled, in part, by concerns of a possible renewed ban on assault weapons and a hike in ammunition taxes.

Instead of receiving permits by the legally required 90 days, Lee County gun owners say it’s taking four to six months.

“It’s extremely frustrating, especially when you’ve purchased firearms for concealed carry and you’re forced not to carry because your permit is delayed,” said Cape Coral resident Patrick Naidl, who waited 51⁄2 months before receiving his permit. His wife, he said, waited 61⁄2 months.

“There’s always a voice in the back of your head that says I hope I don’t get mugged or robbed before my permit arrives.”

According to state law, the agriculture department is required to issue licenses within 90 days of receipt of a completed application.

If the deadline isn’t met, an applicant may request the license through a court order even without results of a criminal background check.

McElroy said no one has sued his agency because of the law.

“But that’s the risk we’re running,” McElroy said. “That’s why we need extra troops to do the paperwork. The last thing we want to do is issue a concealed-weapon permit to someone who hasn’t been sufficiently vetted.”
Scant staff
The agriculture department received extra troops in February, when a legislative budget committee gave agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson the OK to spend $3.9 million to hire 61 temporary workers.

The workers cut into the backlog, but applications continue to rise, McElroy said. In March, the state received 12,809 applications, compared to 7,996 for the same month a year earlier. In April, the state received 15,534 concealed- weapon permit applications, compared to 9,207 in April a year ago.

“We haven’t had a significant increase in staff in four years,” McElroy said. “And now we’re having to do triple the work.”

The agriculture department was helped last month when Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a $6 million raid on a fund that pays for the concealed-weapon permit program.

McElroy said background checks slow the licensing process. Every application has to be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a background check. In order to receive a permit, applicants must have a clean record and be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm through a concealed-weapon class.
County surge
Lee County is playing a role in the state backlog. More locals are seeking permits. From July 1, 2008-April 30, for example, Lee County residents received 2,460 concealed-weapon permits. That’s a 68 percent increase from 2004-05 (1,466 permits issued) and a 121 percent increase from 2000-01 (1,112 licenses).

Josh Hackman, general manager of Fowler Firearms & Gun Range in Fort Myers, has witnessed the increased demand.

He said his range taught 187 people in May for its Sunday concealed weapon classes. Last year, Fowler Firearms taught 83 people during the same month.

“There was a time there where we were getting 60 people every Sunday and having to turn people away,” Hackman said.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott isn’t alarmed by the increase of people taking concealed-weapon classes and seeking permits.

“The prudent, law-abiding citizens who carry guns legally via the prescribed training and licensing are not the problem or the worry,” Scott said.
Permits demand
The election of President Barack Obama and the sluggish economy are contributing to the increase in concealed weapon permit applications, several Lee County gun owners said.

Hackman said many of his clients are concerned the Obama administration will renew the ban on assault weapons or increase taxes on ammunition.

Cape Coral resident Jennifer Britain, who applied for a concealed weapon permit in February and has yet to receive it, said the economy was more of a concern.
“I just wanted to get it for my safety and protection,” she said.
McElroy said crime is playing a role, too.

“In Tallahassee, we had a pretty gruesome murder where a woman was beheaded, and honest to God, 1,000 women took concealed-weapon classes the next month,” he said. “It’s axiomatic. When the economy takes a turn for the worse, crime goes up.”

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s 2008 annual report, major crimes such as murder, robbery and aggravated assaults were down 7.67 percent from the previous year.

But residential burglaries jumped by almost 500, from 3,070 to 3,563, the report said.

Naidl, the Cape resident, said he and his wife applied for concealed- weapon permits a week after a neighbor was robbed in front of his house as he was bringing in groceries.

Hackman said many of his concealed-weapon permit students have similar stories. Hackman said he makes sure to tell his students about the increased delays in receiving permits.

“I tell them after they mail in their application that they have to wait four to six months and you hear this big groan in the classroom,” Hackman said. “This is what happens when everybody tries to do something at the same time. All of a sudden people feel the need to defend themselves.”
Additional Facts Who Is Eligible To Be Licensed? Any person who meets these minimum eligibility requirements can obtain a concealed weapons license:
• You must be a legal U.S. resident.
• You must be 21 or older.
• You must be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm.

polymid
06-17-2009, 20:55
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mac59
06-22-2009, 10:32
Man - i knew it was bad but not like this. I got my permit in 97 days, i guess i did pretty good.

gatorboy
06-29-2009, 10:51
“There’s always a voice in the back of your head that says I hope I don’t get mugged or robbed before my permit arrives.”

:upeyes: clueless

polymid
06-29-2009, 17:14
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