Concealed weapons permits: What you need to know

Americans are feeling increasingly threatened. From disaffected criminals all the way up to possible terrorists, there is no doubt that this country is a scarier place than it used to be.

Carrying a concealed weapon helps give many people more peace of mind. For others, more guns just means more danger for everyone. Either way, it appears that the trend toward carrying a concealed weapon is here to stay.

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden is a strong proponent of carrying a concealed weapon. He is not concerned about any backlash from his very public support of the practice.

“Probably over 90 percent of the responses on Facebook have been positive,” the sheriff said, adding that most of the negative response he’s had has come from outside of Hendry County, adding, “Locals are for it.”

He said that the reason local people are interested in carrying concealed weapons is simple. They watch the news. The reports of horrendous attacks on innocent people by “active shooters” – for whatever reason – are escalating. It is very real, he said. While admitting that Hendry County is probably not a prime target for radical terrorism attacks, he strongly believes that people must be able to defend themselves.

These radicals are here. They’ve declared war on America. We don’t know where or when,” he noted, but people need to be prepared. “Hendry residents travel to larger areas – Palm Beach. Fort Myers and other large areas that are at greater risk. You may not be able to stop an attack,” he said, “but you can mitigate the damage.”

This rising risk is why Sheriff Whidden said he put School Resource Officers in all Hendry County schools.

HCSO puts on gun safety classes periodically, as the need arises. It’s a three-hour course that includes safety issues and solid time at the range. “We make sure they’re proficient with a firearm before they graduate,” he said.

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office charges $29.75 for fingerprinting and $10 to do a background check. There is also a $70 license fee and $42 fingerprint processing fee from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In addition a passport-type photo of yourself is required.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues the license .To be eligible for a CWP an applicant must be at least 21 years old and be competent with a firearm.

You must provide a certificate of completion from a firearms training class like the one HCSO sponsors

Not everyone who wants a concealed weapons permit can get one.

You can be denied if you aren’t physically able to handle a firearm safely; are a convicted felon whose civil/firearm rights have not been restored; have had adjudication withheld or a suspended sentence for a felony or certain violent misdemeanor; have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor in the last three years; have had a controlled substance conviction or multiple arrests; have a drug or alcohol abuse record; have had two or more DUI convictions in three years; have been committed to a mental institution or adjudged incompetent or mentally defective; if you cannot prove proficiency with a firearm; have had a domestic violence injunction against you; if you renounce American citizenship; if you were dishonorably discharged from the military; or if you are a fugitive from justice

You must live in the US unless you are serving in the military overseas and are a US citizen or lawful permanent resident alien with a Permanent Resident Alien card.

There have been 1,463,832 concealed weapons licenses issued in Florida as of November 30, 2015. Currently, in Hendry there are 2,293 concealed weapons licensees and 494 in Glades County as of November 30.

You should know that, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website, a CWP does not allow you to carry in certain places such as law enforcement offices and detention facilities, courtrooms, schools, polling places government meetings, professional athletic events, bars and any place that sells alcoholic beverages for consumption, parts of airports and more.

You should also check if other states recognize Florida CWPs before you leave the state.

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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