Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to get a Concealed Weapons Permit in Florida.


Even though this article is written for Floridians, the process and points I make are very similar in other states.  What ever your reasons are for getting a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) are your own, but more and more I see people getting one because our current political climate is making people think this right will be taken away.  This is a right that law abiding citizens have, and just because you carry a concealed weapon, does not mean you have the right to use it.  The laws around this are very strict, and somewhat complicated.  Educate yourself.

In Florida CWP licensing is a Florida Department of Agriculture responsibility.  Normally I like to hyperlink the website, but since this has been changing lately I'll point you in the right direction.  The site is http://www.FreshFromFlorida.com/, and you need to go to the Division of Licensing, where all the forms and instructions can be downloaded.  They used to mail out packets, but I think that's been discontinued.  Here is a condensed version of the process. 

Fees to expect:
License fee: $70
Fingerprint fees: $42 (may be less)
Passport photo: $10
Training fees: Free to $150 depending on type

1. Read the Chapter 790, of the Florida Statutes and see if it is for you. alternate link here
2. Download the application and instructions here.  The application must be signed in front of a Notary.
3. Get your finger prints taken at a local police or sheriff's office.  If you submit the traditional fingerprint card with your application, it will cost you $42 more.  If you have law enforcement electronically send in your prints, they will charge you a fee, but it is less and will speed up the process for you.  The overall cost of this is about the same, but it is a real time saver.
4. Have your passport photo taken, you will need to submit this with the application.  Be sure to read the application instructions about this.
5. You will need to submit a "training certificate".  The rest of this story addresses this training requirement.

I (and others) teach many firearms classes, but the two most people are interested in are FWC Hunter Safety, held normally once a month (8 to 16 hours), NRA First Steps Pistol Orientation (3-4 hours) and NRA Basic Pistol (8-10 hours).  The only way you can have a course last only an hour or two is if you come in with previous, near expert knowledge.

The Florida CWP requirement for training is "You must be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm.", which is a very broad statement, and often misinterpreted.  Some less than honest instructors are willing to take your money under the guise of Concealed Weapons Permit Training.  Buyer beware, know the requirement.  Below is text copied from FL DACS - Question 6, Application Instructions:

Florida law requires you to submit proof of competency with a firearm in order to qualify for a concealed weapon license. A copy of a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION or similar document from any of the following courses or classes is acceptable:

• any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or a similar agency in another state;
• any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;
• any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school, utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association, the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, or the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;
• any law enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security officers, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement;
• any firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state-certified instructor or by an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association.

The copy of the training certificate/document must be clear and legible. The certificate/document must include your name, your instructor’s name, your instructor’s qualifications/credentials (National Rifle Association instructor, law enforcement firearms instructor, Class “K” Firearms Instructor licensed by the State of Florida, etc.), and your instructor’s license/certification number.
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FL FWC Hunter Safety classes can be found here.
NRA Training Programs can be found here.
NRA Courses near you can be found here.

Hunter Safety is about a 12 hour class and $10 (sometimes free) and my NRA class is 3 hours and $60 per person.  I have significant family discounts.  There are many other good classes that can qualify you for your application, but the important thing is that you feel confident in safe firearms handling, and you are aware of the laws that apply to your new permit.  Neither of my classes deal with CWP laws to a significant degree, because FWC nor the NRA wish to carry that liability of giving legal advice.  To get the advice you need for legal purposes, read the law and consult law enforcement and / or an attorney.

Final note - I hope this process will prompt you to practice your firearm safety and skills for a long time, and it will not be something you get and then forget.  Use this opportunity to meet people at a local shooting range or gun club.  I think you'll find shooting sports and the people you meet to be fun and rewarding.  Also, when you go through this process share it with your family, especially your children.

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