Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- A bill filed in the state Senate could take some of the pain out of applying for a concealed weapon permit.
If passed during the spring session, the bill would open more locations where Florida residents can apply.
residents must submit applications through one of eight regional
offices of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The only Southwest Florida office is in Punta Gorda.
Bill 544, filed Dec. 17 by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, would allow
tax collectors to accept concealed weapon applications as well. There
are six Lee County Tax Collector offices.
for a concealed weapon permit is a hassle, and the new bill could help,
said Jon Dezendorf, manager of Fowler Firearms in Fort Myers.
"I approve of it 100 percent," he said. "Because the more locations the better. Get this thing taken care of."
taken by the tax collector's office still would be sent to the
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for processing, said
Department spokesman Aaron Keller. The requirements wouldn't change -
applicants would still be required to take a concealed weapon class and
pass a background check.
would be another way for consumers to get it to us," Keller said. "And
just having more staff, it would certainly help cut down on some of that
wait time for an appointment at the Punta Gorda office on Friday was
about a week. The wait at the six Lee County Tax Collector offices was
about 15-30 minutes.
for licenses skyrocketed at the beginning of the year, after the Sandy
Hook Elementary School shooting prompted lawmakers to propose new gun
control measures. The state could barely process license applications
within the mandated 90-day period and hired 34 employees to help with
has since gone down, and applications typically take 40-45 days, Keller
said. But he expects an increase in renewal applicants in 2015, as many
licenses are set to expire. In 2008 the renewal period changed from
every five years to every seven years. In 2015 the first batch of seven
year licenses will be up for renewal.
Concealed weapon license applicants also can download the necessary
forms online and mail them to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services. But they need to have their fingerprints and passport
photograph taken, and have the forms notarized. Many people find it
easier to do it all at once at the Punta Gorda office, Dezendorf said.
fiscal year, 46 percent of applications were submitted at one of the
department's eight regional offices, according to Keller.
tax collector's office also is equipped to take fingerprints,
photographs and notarize documents, said Larry Hart, Lee County tax
"It should be a very minimal impact on my office," Hart said. "We process paperwork for the state every day."
the bill passes, Hart will apply through the Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services to be one of the tax collectors authorized to take
applications. If his office is accepted, he probably will roll out the
service in two county offices first.
"We'll start it, and we'll monitor it," Hart said. "And if it's a concern, we'll make adjustments."
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