JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New rules are in effect that make it easier for Floridians to renew their concealed weapon permit.
We're asking the tough questions about whether a quicker process to renew a weapon permit will put guns in the wrong hands.
People buying guns is becoming more and more common in Florida. Last month alone, more than 53,000 people applied for a concealed weapon license. That's the highest since the state started tracking it in 2001.
Because of the growing demand, Florida is now making the process to renew weapons permits faster. We asked former FBI agent and weapons instructor Ron Wirth if he thought it was a good idea to speed up the renewal process. "It makes a person show up more quickly as opposed to sending it in the mail."
Wirth likes the new system, but we wanted to know whether a quicker process would allow guns to get into the wrong hands. We asked Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam if there were safeguards. Putnam rolled out the new program. A spokesperson for his department says yes. "In an email from his spokesperson, he says "The process is far from easy and making changes to the renewal process does not take away from the initial requirements an applicant must meet before receiving a concealed weapons permit."
The president of the Brady Project to prevent gun violence says concealed carry permits are already too easy to get in Florida. He points to the case of the neighborhood watchman who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. "You know, this man, George Zimmerman, is a living example of that. This is a guy who had an arrest record, this is a guy who had a violent past. This is a guy who in numerous other states would never be offered a permit to carry a loaded, hidden, handgun."
In order to get a license in Florida, you have to complete a gun safety course and provide a copy of your fingerprints so a background check can be done. Permits issued after 2008 are renewed every seven years.
If someone is charged with a felony crime, the department is notified and the weapon permit can be suspended. If you're convicted, it's revoked.