On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers approved a $2.6 million request by the state Department of Agriculture to handle the continued historic spike in concealed carry permit applications.
The agency, which oversees the state’s concealed weapons permit program, expects that 316,738 concealed weapons permit applications during this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The agency had originally budgeted to handle last year’s record-breaking 244,726 applications. By Oct. 16, roughly three months into the new fiscal year, it already had collected 105,594 applications, said Derek Buchanan, the agency’s policy and budget director.
“What we’re seeing is the same historic high number of applications we saw last year,” Buchanan said.
The agency already has a record 1.7 million concealed weapons permits on file.
The money approved by the Joint-Legislative Budget Commission will be added to the $25 million that legislators included in the budget for the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Licensing this year, bringing the total appropriation to $27.6 million. Most of the new money is needed for background checks performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Buchanan said.
State Department of Agriculture spokesman Aaron Keller said the money will come from a trust fund supported by fees paid with permit applications.
“We’re basically asking the commission to move money over that can only be used for concealed weapons permits,” Keller said.
Keller said his agency has accepted the increase in applications as the norm. National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said reports of terrorist attacks around the country and a continued threat on Second Amendment rights have prompted people to seek protection.
“People are feeling the need to take responsibility for their own safety in face of terrorist attacks,” Hammer said in an email. “And gratuitous violence by criminals combined with political attacks on Second Amendment rights frequently lead to increases in the desire to get licenses to carry for protection.”