A state-level commissioner in Florida is being sued after her department unilaterally closed online applications for concealed carry permits.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried shut down the state’s application process last month “due to coronavirus precautions.” But President of Young Americans for Liberty Cliff Maloney argues in a new lawsuit that Fried has no legitimate reason to close the online form.
“It’s truly sad to see Nikki Fried exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to further her anti-Second Amendment agenda,” Maloney told The Washington Times. “She can host an online fundraiser for Joe Biden, but she can’t accept online applications for concealed weapons licenses? Commissioner Fried needs to stop infringing on the constitutional right of Floridians to protect themselves and their families.”
The Agriculture Department argues that it paused online applications to prevent people from losing their application fee after submitting incomplete applications, according to WEAR TV. Since many police stations are closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, department officials worry that applicants will submit their forms without the necessary fingerprints.
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They also argue that they’re still accepting paper applications and have completed 54,000 since March 1.
But Florida Attorney General Ashely Moody noted in a letter to Fried that their concerns about fingerprinting would still apply to those who submit paper applications.
“I understand that it is likely more difficult for Floridians to obtain fingerprints. But, those difficulties would equally exist for mailed in applications, which your agency purports to still be accepting,” Moody said.
Maloney has also pointed out that the Department of Agriculture is still accepting hemp cultivation applications online, which require fingerprints.
“We are just trying to make sure that every single person in the State of Florida has the right to defend themselves and has the right to defend their family, something Nikki Fried does not have the right to dictate,” Maloney told WEAR TV.
A spokesperson from the Department of Agriculture issued a statement to WEAR TV arguing that their actions are in the best interest of Floridians.
“This action is consistent with state law and is in the interest of Floridians seeking concealed weapons licenses — anyone who wants to apply can submit applications with fingerprint cards from a law enforcement agency by mail or through tax collector offices, as normal,” the department said.
Fried is Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, and she hasn’t been shy about her anti-gun stance since she gained the seat. In December of last year, she filed a brief backing the ability of cities and counties to issue their own gun control regulations.
“The out-of-touch NRA simply can’t handle that they’ve lost control, they’ve lost in court, and they’ve lost revenue made at the expense of communities demanding common-sense gun safety,” she said at the time. “Despite the improved efficiency and accountability we’ve brought to concealed weapons licensing — including up to a 98 percent cut in review times — the NRA can attack me all they want. They can’t stop me from fighting to keep Florida’s families safe from gun violence.”