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Concealed weapons license applications hit all-time high in Florida

Presidential election years usually see increase, pandemic likely a driving factor, according to Florida commissioner

Requests for concealed weapons licenses have reached an all-time high in Florida in 2020. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson, Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Applications in Florida for concealed weapons licenses (CWL) in recent months have reached an all time high in Florida with October 2020 seeing the largest number of CWL applications in the state’s history, according to the commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and its Division of Licensing.

38,349 new CWL applications were received in October in addition to 8,590 CWL renewal applications. The monthly average in in 2019 was 16,891, while in 2018 , it was 15,741. FDACS has received at least 36,000 new CWL applications every month since July 2020.

  • FDACS received 202,698 new CWL applications in 2019 and 188,900 new CWL applications in 2018. The department is projecting it will process a record 305,043 new applications and 143,749 renewal applications in 2020. It is currently processing approximately 10,000 CWL applications per week.

According to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, applications typically increase in presidential election years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has likely driven higher application volume.

Because of the rise in volume, Fried said the department has hired more than 20 additional staff for its call center, mail room, and license issuance to reduce wait times and will add up to 15 temporary staff in the coming months to reduce wait times for licensing appointment scheduling.

Fried said that when she took office in 2019, she prioritized background checks and reduced CWL application review times, which were as long as 88 days for applicants with prior arrests or prosecutions.

Under Fried’s leadership, she said, the Division of Licensing reduced initial review times by up to 98 percent for new applications.

Due to the historic volume of applications, the current review time for applications in verification (those with criminal history) is 42 days, and applications in processing (those without criminal history) is 43 days.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.