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PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

PolitiFact Florida: Can you get permit for concealed gun without leaving your home?

Obtaining a permit to carry a concealed gun in Florida is so easy you can do it without ever leaving your house, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Dan Gross, the president of the group, testified about Florida's gun laws at a briefing held with some congressional Democrats last week. The topic was racial profiling and "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The Brady Campaign says Florida has become a "great success story" for the gun lobby.

"In Florida, being armed in public is such a casual formality that law enforcement does not issue the license to carry loaded, concealed guns; that is done by the Department of Agriculture — the same agency charged with issuing permits to pick tomatoes or transport livestock," Gross said.

"Their website is FreshFromFlorida.com. You can use it to get a permit to carry a loaded hidden gun without ever leaving your house," he added.

That's the claim we're checking here.

The Brady Campaign is right that it is the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that issues concealed weapons permits. It was easy to download the two-page application and about 45 pages containing the application instructions and the law from its website, FreshFromFlorida.com.

But the process is much more complicated than just filling out an online form.

Candidates must provide a photograph, pay a fee and have their application form notarized. Most significantly for purposes of this fact-check, applicants must show proof of having gone through a firearms training class, and they must be fingerprinted.

We thought those two requirements showed the Brady Campaign was wrong in its statement. Let's review the evidence.

• Firearms training documentation: Florida law requires an instructor "maintain records certifying that he or she observed the student safely handle and discharge the firearm." That can be a class taught by law enforcement, the National Rifle Association or any other class approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

That rules out an online course, said Sterling Ivey, agriculture spokesman.

But the Brady Campaign responded that some instructors will come to your home, pointing us to groups like Florida Concealed Weapons Carry.

We spoke to the owner of that company, Eric Wall.

"When I go to their house, we usually have it in their living room or whatever to go over the details of concealed carry," he said. Then the applicants head to his trailer, which is a mobile shooting range. "I have to physically watch everyone handle, load and shoot a firearm."

Wall said he can take care of the firearms class, photo and notary all at an applicant's home.

We should note that going into the trailer means you need to leave your house, even though you're still on your own property.

The Brady Campaign also noted that applicants can use past shooting experience, pointing to language that says acceptable documentation includes "evidence of experience with a firearm obtained through participation in organized shooting competition."

Ivey said a mobile firearm class is allowed, as long as it meets the requirements of having the instructor observe the student safely handle the firearm. He also said that past shooting experience is acceptable, but that would likely have meant the person left their home.

• A set of fingerprints or a copy of a receipt showing that they had a scan of their fingerprints: Florida's application states that "fingerprints must be taken at a LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY'' and the statute requires "a full set of fingerprints of the applicant administered by a law enforcement agency.

Mobile fingerprinting services do exist, but we could not find a mobile company that would provide this service at Floridians' homes. We spoke to owners at three mobile fingerprint companies in Florida — 1 SureScan in Orlando, Anytime Mobile Fingerprinting in the Tampa area and Fingerprint Technologies in Coral Gables — who told us that they had inquired with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about providing that service and had been discouraged or told it wasn't allowed.

We asked FDLE if they would accept fingerprints from a mobile company for the concealed weapons permit. FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg replied: "It is our understanding that FL Statute 790.06 (4)(c) states that fingerprinting is to be administered by a law enforcement agency. FDLE performs the background checks and provides the results to Department of Agriculture."

Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said Floridians can "get a permit to carry a loaded hidden gun without ever leaving your house."

The law, though, requires that people receive firearms training and be fingerprinted by law enforcement. While it's possible to pay a firearms trainer to come to your property, we found no evidence that such training is widespread. We also found no evidence that mobile fingerprinting would be allowed for the gun permit application in Florida.

We rate this claim False.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at politifact.com/florida.

The statement

The Florida Department of Agriculture's website FreshFromFlorida.com can be used "to get a permit to carry a loaded hidden gun without ever leaving your house."

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, March 27, in a congressional briefing

The ruling

State law requires people applying for a concealed weapons permit receive firearms training and be fingerprinted by law enforcement — two elements that would typically require people to leave their homes. We rate this claim False.

PolitiFact Florida: Can you get permit for concealed gun without leaving your home? 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 10:34pm]
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