Florida is way behind in issuing concealed handgun permits
Florida can't keep up with concealed weapon permit requests
The state greenlighted funds to hire 61 workers to tackle a backlog of concealed-weapons permit applications.
BY STEVE BOUSQUET
HERALD/TIMES TALLAHASSEE BUREAU
TALLAHASSEE -- Floridians in record numbers want to carry concealed weapons, a trend linked to a surge in crime, economic anxiety and fears of stricter gun laws.
The state is buried under a backlog of 95,000 applications for concealed-weapons permits and it needs to hire a lot more people to handle the paperwork. A legislative panel Wednesday gave Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson the OK to spend $3.9 million more so he can hire 61 temporary workers.
''Once the economy gets bad, crime always goes up,'' said Bronson, a police officer. ``People get desperate whenever things are not going the way they feel like they should be going, and they'll do things they normally wouldn't do.''
The state reported a surge in applications in November after the election of President Barack Obama, who in the past has advocated stricter gun control laws but who also campaigned as a defender of Second Amendment rights. Florida received 75,679 first-time concealed-weapon permit applications in 2007 and 86,269 in 2008, in addition to tens of thousands of renewal forms. About 541,000 Floridians have permits for concealed weapons. . . .