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Columbia County Observer

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Renewed Wave of Firearms Purchases By Floridians

Hand gun with copy: [Florida] nation's highest concealed-weapons-licenses-per-capita
Handgun photo: Jay Rembert/Unsplash

TALLAHASSEE, FL –

Florida firearms purchases boomed in March as the COVID-19 emergency emerged, and, just as retailers were restocking inventory, Black Lives Matter protests seem to have spurred a renewed sales surge.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 662,976 background checks for firearm purchases in Florida were performed over the first five months of 2020 – nearly 170,000 more than between January-May 2019.

NCIS showed Florida background checks for firearm purchases skyrocketed to 192,238 in March, nearly 80,000 more than March 2019, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

March’s 192,000 NCIS background checks was the most monthly background checks ever recorded in the state, topping the previous record month, established in 2018, by 54,000 checks.

NCIS reported Florida background checks have remained significantly higher than previous years, although background checks tapered from March’s apex to 128,670 in April and 115,815 in May.

If tentative indications from FDLE prove accurate, June’s background check totals should reflect a renewed wave of firearms purchases by Floridians – and perhaps record sales numbers – since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody May 25 has sparked protests across the country.

Between May 26 and June 14, FDLE reported 117,669 background checks have been conducted in the state – four times the typical sales for the span.

There were 30,657 background checks in Florida in the week after Floyd’s death, according to FDLE.

On June 1, 8,597 background checks were processed, more than four times higher than the first Monday in June last year, FDLE reported.

FDLE documented NCIS conducted another 10,318 background checks June 2 for Florida gun sales.

By June 14, new checks dwindled to 2,620 a day, according to FDLE, but still were significantly outpacing typical sales numbers.

Florida’s brisk gun sales reflect a national trend, according to NCIS. More than 9 million background checks nationwide were performed in March, the FBI reported, with March 20’s 1.3 million checks recorded as “the busiest day of the busiest month ever for background checks in the United States.”

Meanwhile, according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, her office has processed more than 100,579 concealed weapons licenses this year, including 54,000 between March and May.

Florida, with more than 2 million concealed weapons license holders among its 21 million residents, has the nation’s highest concealed-weapons-licenses-per-capita rate.

Fried reopened Florida’s online application process for concealed weapons licenses June 15 after suspending it in March because, she said, statewide closures of offices and law enforcement agencies prevented applicants from being fingerprinted and utilizing the digital platform.

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) President Cliff Mahoney filed a lawsuit against Fried, Florida’s only statewide-elected Democrat, challenging the suspension of processing concealed weapons licenses online.

Fried said last week YAL's claim that her order prevented concealed weapons licenses from being processed is “misinformation,” noting it had “no impact on our operations” and that her office had processed 54,000 hard copy concealed weapons licenses filed since March.

She called YAL’s lawsuit “frivolous” and said “it has no impact on our decision to open up.”

Mahoney said Fried’s order to resume processing online concealed weapons licenses means, “She lost, and the people of Florida won.”

“Nikki Fried tried to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to advance her authoritarian, gun-grabbing agenda,” he said. “Let this victory serve as a reminder that our right to self-defense is non-negotiable and that millions of law abiding gun owners will not sit idly by while tyrants attempt to silence us.”

This piece appeared in the The Center Square and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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