Michelle Pickett received her concealed carry license about six years ago. Because she didn’t grow up around guns, she said she was very skittish when she started shooting.
So Pickett took several classes before applying for her permit.
“I think everyone should be able to protect themselves,” said Pickett, an instructor at Harry Beckwith Gun and Range and The Well Armed Women. “What is the difference to be able to protect yourself going to Publix or the mall? It doesn’t matter where you carry. The place doesn’t matter. It’s the training. Criminals aren’t going to obey the law.”
Florida has the highest number of concealed carry licenses in the nation, with more than 1.5 million, according to Politifact. In fact, Gov. Rick Scott just signed a bill into law that will reduce the cost of concealed weapons licenses. The measure (SB 772),was one of 14 bills Scott signed, and it reduces the license fee from $70 to $60 on the initial application and from $60 to $50 for renewals.
The change is projected to reduce state revenue by $2.99 million next fiscal year, according to a Senate analysis of the bill. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency oversees concealed-weapons licenses, has said the measure is part of efforts to make the application process “more convenient and affordable.”
“Just basically looking around me and watching the news I see what’s going on in the world. And it’s just a way for me to be able to carry a tool that I chose. In case I ever need to protect myself,” he said.
But obtaining a concealed carry license might not be as hard as some would think.
What does it take to get a concealed carry license?
Florida Statute 790.06 outlines four different types of classes that qualify an individual to apply for a concealed carry license.
These classes are generally universal throughout the state of Florida and are usually sponsored by the NRA.
In these classes clients learn the legal parameters and where they can carry. The clients must also be able to hit a target from seven yards away.
Every state has its own concealed carry license law, and some states have laws that do not allow people to carry guns anywhere.
Are the current requirements for concealed carry licenses adequate in training someone on how to use a gun?
The current requirements in Florida to qualify a person to apply can be as simple as a three-hour class.
“Here’s the thing. I feel it is adequate, but there is a misnomer. When people see a concealed carry class many make assumptions. People think in a one-day course they will be trained to be a ninja. The whole purpose of the concealed carry course is solely on [the person] to accept [the responsibility] to carry the weapon concealed,” said Lynn Westover, chief instructor at Six Tactical.
Six Tactical is an organization made up of combat veterans who want to share the self-defense skills they learned in the military with everyday people.
Six Tactical has taken a different approach at providing concealed carry licenses to their clients. In order for a client to receive his or her certification and be able to apply for concealed carry, he or she must attend “Tactical Pistol 1 and Tactical Pistol 2.” These two classes go above the minimum requirements and give people more advance training with their guns.
The classes are given based on demand. Levels one and two of the class must be completed before Six Tactical qualifies a person for certification.
“We have a standard or expectation of what we feel is responsible. About half the people who come to our classes have their concealed carry. Most people see obtaining their concealed carry as the first step,” Westover said.
Harry Beckwith Gun & Range is another local gun range that requires more than just the basics for a person to qualify for a concealed carry license.
“My weapon classes are not beginner classes. Everyone that comes to me has to shoot single handed and reactive fire [for me to qualify them to apply for their concealed carry license]. It is more realistic self-defense,” Pickett said.
Learning proper technique and being comfortable operating a weapon is critical, Westover said.
“It’s not really the weapon. It’s the action. It is not enough to have a tool. A tool in anyone’s hands can be just as effective or dangerous either to themselves or to anyone else. The better the tool doesn’t make the carpenter. It is the skill level of the carpenter that determines the product that comes out of it,” said Westover.
UF Students Attend Six Tactical Class
University of Florida students and members of the Students for Concealed Carry at UF took Tactical Pistol 1 and Tactical Pistol 2 with Six Tactical on March 26th and 27th.
The company instructed students and taught them tactical advantages in real-world self-defense situations.
Alex Stewart, president of Students for Concealed Carry at UF, said, “College campuses are not fundamentally different than other places in terms of safety. Students and faculty are generally law- abiding people just like most people in public are.”