On Wednesday, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced that Florida concealed weapon licenses can now be renewed online.
“My goal is to make applying for or renewing a Florida concealed weapon license as convenient as possible, and this new online feature gives license holders another option when renewing,” he said in a press release on Wednesday.
In Florida, there are more than 1.6 million active concealed weapon licenses, and of those, over 204,000 will expire in 2017.
Marion Hammer, the executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and former president of the National Rifle Association said she had consulted with the Florida Department of Agriculture regarding this decision.
“We felt strongly that something needed to happen,” she said, “and we are delighted to hear [Putnam’s] announcement today.”
Hammer says that online license renewal is a step forward in modernizing gun ownership.
“Today, we have online banking, and many other things that can be done over the Internet,” she said. “This is simply another convenience, so gun owners don’t have to go through an extensive mailing process or travel to an office in person.”
Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters, stated that the online renewal is an “unconscionable action” which reinforces a lack of mandatory training for concealed weapon owners.
“It’s irresponsible, and does nothing to improve the safety of Florida citizens,” she said. “Instead, it’s putting the safety of both gun owners and non-gun owners at risk.”
Goodman said she predicts that gun control will be a highly contested subject in the upcoming Congress, and that the Florida League of Women Voters feels very strongly about gun safety.
Sean Caranna, the executive director of Florida Carry Inc., said he was surprised to hear the announcement this morning, and that he had been discussing the option with Putnam’s department since 2011.
“It was one of the major problems with licenses,” he said. “People would have to take a day off from work to renew, just because the offices usually aren’t open on weekends.”
Caranna noted that the option to renew a concealed weapons license online is simply more convenient for license holders, but that all the same backgrounds checks and fees still apply.
License holders can still renew a concealed weapons license through the mail, as well as at 41 Tax Collectors Offices across the state or at one of the Department of Agriculture’s eight regional offices in Doral, Fort Walton, Jacksonville, North Port, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
“When you have 1.6 million people needing to renew a license every seven years, there may not be enough time in the day for everyone to get it done,” he said. “Now, more office personnel will be available to assist those who need help in person.”