Despite an increase in Floridians seeking concealed-weapons permits, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced Friday that her office has succeeded in cutting review time for permits and determining whether applicants can qualify to carry a gun.
Fried, a Democrat who took office in January, vowed to improve the program after criticism over the way former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam handled it. An investigation last year showed Putnam’s office failed to properly carry out background checks and some 300 permits had to be revoked.
The concealed-weapons permits have now topped more than 2 million. And Fried, who has her own concealed-weapons permit, said her office is processing about 20,000 permit applications a month, representing a 76 percent increase in 2019.
“One of my most important responsibilities is overseeing Florida’s 2 million concealed weapons permits. The serious failures of oversight by the previous administration required that we make major changes in the Division of Licensing – and required that we get this process right,” Fried said in a written statement.
She made the announcement along with Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano in Dade City on Friday. Fried said the ability of Floridians to make in-person applications at tax collector offices across the state has helped improve the review time.
“I vowed on day one that we would improve efficiency while ensuring that everyone who applies to carry concealed weapons gets the full background check required by law,” she said.
According to Fried’s office, the initial review times for applications with prior arrests or prosecutions has been reduced 70 percent since January. It decreased from an average 88 days to 25.
For applications without prior issues, the review time has been reduced 98 percent since January, with a current one-day review average versus 50 days, according to Fried’s office.