Some of the most ardent supporters of gun rights in Palm Beach County say it’s too easy to get a concealed weapons license in Florida, where gun owners from as far away as Alaska take the course to get the right to carry.
Critics of the Florida system, including members of the National Rifle Association, say state law does not require enough training to prove “competence” with a handgun. That worries them. If sloppy handgun owners shoot first and think later, their mistakes could cause unintended deaths and jeopardize the rights of responsible gun owners.
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When applying for a concealed weapons license, applicants have seven options for proving competence with a firearm under Florida Statutes Chapter 790.06:
- Completing any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation commission — or a similar agency of another state.
- Completing any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course.
- The completion of any firearms safety or training course available to the public offered by a law enforcement agency, junior college or college, private or public institution or firearms training school. Instructors must be certified by the NRA, the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission or the Department of State.
- Completing any law enforcement firearms safety or training course (or class) offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies — or any division of law enforcement or security enforcement.
- Presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competitions or military service.
- Current licenses to carry a firearm issued by the state of Florida or a county or municipality in Florida (unless the license has been revoked for cause).
- Completing any firearms training or safety course conducted by a state-certified or NRA-certified firearms instructor.
What the NRA’s FIRST Steps handgun training course covers:
• Shooting with an instructor at a gun range (a minimum of 50 rounds)
• Basic firearm safety and storage
- Revolver parts and operation; semi-automatic parts and operation
- Ammunition fundamentals
- Fundamentals of pistol shooting
- Pistol shooting positions
- Common shooting errors
- Clearing pistol jams
- Cleaning and maintaining a pistol
- Choosing a handgun
- Selecting ammunition
- Range etiquette
- Skill development
Non-Floridians hold more than 100,000 concealed weapons licenses granted by Florida.
Here are the numbers from the top 10 states:
New York, 13,006
New Jersey, 8,892
NOTE: Illinois does not permit concealed weapons but is under court order to do so; a Florida concealed weapons permit is valid in 35 other states.
SOURCE: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services