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Flagler, Among Top 10 Counties With Most Concealed-Weapon Licenses, Will Fast-Track Permitting

| August 31, 2015

concealed weapons permits flagler

Not just license plates and driver’s licenses: Suzanne Johnston’s Tax Collector’s office will take applications for concealed weapon permits starting in January. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County residents love their concealed weapons: As of the end of July, there were 8,170 concealed weapons holders in the county, or 8.24 concealed carry permits for every 100 residents. That’s the 10th highest rate out of 67 counties in Florida (Okaloosa, Monroe and Nassau top the list, in that order). The average in the state is just over 7 per 100 residents.

It’ll soon become much easier to get a concealed weapon permit.

Starting Jan. 1, residents, for an extra $22 or $12 for a renewal (in addition to the $112 fee for a new application), will be able to fill out their concealed weapon application at the tax collector’s office in Bunnell, have their fingerprints and picture taken there and the application scanned and transmitted from the office to the Department of Agriculture in Tallahassee, fast-tracking the process. “We don’t actually approve it, we’d just be taking the application and transmitting it electronically to them,” Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston said.

The process is expected to take one hour or less, depending on applicants’ dexterity with a computer. Four to six of Johnston’s 30 staffers will be trained (in Tallahassee) to provide the service. None of the information submitted to the tax office or to the agriculture department in Tallahassee is subject to public record disclosure.

Until now, applicants for concealed weapon permits have had to apply in person at one of eight regional offices around the state, the closest ones to Flagler being in Jacksonville or Orlando, or apply by mail, though they could pick up the application at the local sheriff’s office and be finger-printed there for $5. The applicant would then be responsible for sending in the fingerprinting card to Tallahassee with the application. That $5 is separate from the $42 the department of agriculture levies for processing the fingerprints and conduct a background check.

“There’s nothing that we’re involved in in the process other than if a citizen asks for a concealed weapon permit packet we provide it to them,” the Flagler Sheriff’s Office’s Jim Troiano said. “As far as the tax collector offering them, I think that’s a great idea. The more service the better.”

Applicants would still have to be background-checked and wait three days before legally owning a weapon. Florida, however, makes it very easy for residents 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon. Restrictions are few. Felons may not be licensed. Restrictions also apply to individuals who are currently under a domestic violence injunction, who have been declared incapacitated under the law or who have been committee to a mental institution. Alcoholics and drug addict s are theoretically barred from eligibility, but applicants self-report, so that provision’s teeth are questionable. Since 1987, the state has received 2.88 million applications for concealed weapon permits. It has approved 98.2 percent of them. Two-thirds of denials are the result of incomplete applications.

The Florida Legislature last year passed the bill enabling tax collectors to take applications (by a 94-22 margin in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate). Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law in June 2014.

concealed weapons permits florida by age and sex

Concealed weapon permit holders by age and sex. Click on the image for larger view. (Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.)

“The Department of Agriculture started with several tax collectors and they’re adding more as they’re able to,” Johnston said. “They’re doing four, five at a time. We’re not one of those yet.”

Adam Putnam, the agriculture commissioner, was at the tax collector’s office in St. Augustine today announcing the broad roll-out of the plan. His staffers were at Johnston’s office recently, evaluating the Bunnell office for space and equipment before sending it down.

The service will be available only at the Government Services Building, not at Johnston’s satellite office on Old Kings Road in Palm Coast.

“Anything that helps the residents, I’m all for, so whether I like it or not, the simple fact is that if it helps the residents, it’s a good thing,” Johnston said. Her $2 million budget will not be affected by the additional service: “The department of agriculture will furnish all of the equipment, so it really won’t cost our office or the taxpayer anything.” But her staff will have to assume the new responsibilities. Four to six employees from among her total of 30 will go to Tallahassee for a day’s training. The $22 application fee, all of which will go into the tax collector’s coffers, is expected to generate extra revenue for the office.

The spread of fast-tracking capabilities at tax collectors’ offices is in response to the increasing demand for concealed weapon permits over the past 14 years. In 2000, there were 28,618 applications for initial licensure and 73,821 applications for licensure renewal the entire year. These days a single month can tally that number: in 2013, the Department received 204,288 new license applications and 60,293 applications for license renewal.

The Legislature appropriated an annual $736,608 extra to the Department of Agriculture, paying for the addition of 11 state employees, to facilitate the fast-tracking. The Department also planned to provide computers, scanners, printers, and one camera for each participating tax collector’s office at a cost of $2,900, plus an electronic finger-print scanner for $17,000. The department also assumes the $1,620 maintenance cost of each scanner, adding well over $1 million to the fast-tracking infrastructure across the state. There were no objections from small-government advocates.

“If the convenience of applying at tax collectors’ offices increases the number of applications, the private companies may experience an increase in revenue as a result of more individuals taking the classes,” a legislative analysis of the bill spreading the system to tax collectors noted in 2014.

While the tax collector’s office will accept applications for concealed weapons, it is still illegal to walk into the Government Services Building in Bunnell with a firearm, except for law enforcement and security personnel.

31 Responses for “Flagler, Among Top 10 Counties With Most Concealed-Weapon Licenses, Will Fast-Track Permitting”

  1. Nancy N. says:

    Because by all means, let’s make it even easier for people to be packing weaponry everywhere they go. Like I wasn’t worried enough about getting shot in this town for changing lanes wrong or cutting in front of someone at the grocery store line by accident. Great, let’s make it more convenient for every one of those raging lunatics to have a gun legally by their side 24/7 when they can reach for it in a fit of rage, and give them a sense of justification by putting the state’s seal of approval on their need to carry to feel adequate.

    • Dennis says:

      Nancy , just to let u know u don’t have to CWP to have a firearm in ur car or truck. I’ve had a CWP for over 30yrs. Most likely you’ve been shopping with someone with a CWP next to u but never know it. He or she is not waving their firearm around. If a person goes through the process to get a CWP they r check by the FBI for any criminal background. If a lunatics does go postal it might be a CWP person to put a end to this. There r thousand of CWP holder out there so relax. And just to let u know almost every state has some type of CWP (California and NY I think does not have CWP).

      • Nancy N. says:

        It’s not a criminal background I’m concerned about. It’s someone with an anger management or substance abuse issue – which doesn’t show up on a background check unless they’ve already committed a crime like assault as a result of it.

        George Zimmerman still had a permit as of earlier this year when he was involved in yet another incident of violence. Michael Dunn had a CWP when he shot a kid for loud music in a gas station. Nathaniel Juratovac was an ex-cp and thus presumably licensed when he shot a Flagler firefighter on US-1.

        Being licensed doesn’t mean you have the ability to keep your temper in check.

    • Matt says:

      “Like I wasn’t worried enough about getting shot in this town for changing lanes wrong or cutting in front of someone at the grocery store line by accident.”
      That’s called paranoia a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission

  2. Geezer says:

    I’ve had a permit for 10 years, and continue to hold a FL CWP as a non-resident.
    It’s very telling just how unsafe people feel here. I mean Flagler County in particular.

  3. tulip says:

    Too many guns out there, and the background checks and references no stiff enough. More and more people now consider their guns their power and problem solver. Got a problem with someone or don’t like a person’s attitude? Kill it, bang bang.

    Just what Flagler county needs, expedited gun permits. As that word gets out, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people come here and rent a place for a couple of months just to get the fast permit and then go wreak havoc by committing crimes. Thanks Tax collector’s office. (not)

    Every day on tv we hear of shootings all over the place and I’m sure it’s in other states also. I worry and feel bad about today’s young children growing up in a world of shootings, guns and never feeling safe. It used to be that if people heard of someone being shot, they paid attention, now it’s just a way of life..How very sad and scary that is.

    Also, there is no reason anyone should be able to get a permit for these AKA’s and other types of guns like that, but it’s allowed because the NRA has the government and the people in it’s grasp. Oddly enough, many nice people with a lot of common sense that have guns are generally caught by surprise by a criminal with a gun and they don’t even get a chance to use theirs, or it’s a home invasion and their gun is in a drawer someplace and, if the criminal finds it, he or she steals it.

    • Flagler Resident says:

      People who take the time to actually obtain a Concealed weapon permit are not the problem . They are not committing crimes or going on random shooting sprees they are US citizens who are exercising their right guaranteed to them by the 1st amendment. Law abiding citizens have the right to carry a concealed weapon and do so without issue. Crimes and “Havoc” as you claim are done by individuals with bad intentions no law you pass will change that. focus your attention on educating the percentage of our population that are committing these acts, It wont stop every crime but makes more sense than taking rights away from the majority of legal gun owners who are not violent killers as you describe.

      • Flagler Resident says:

        I apologize I meant to state that its their 2nd amendment right I was going to refer to the first amendment as it pertains to opinions and freedom of speech but got off track

    • PCer says:

      Criminals don’t take the time to get a CWP. They carry illegally… they are criminals. Instead of focusing on the lawful gun owners and carriers, how about we focus on the criminals. How about we sink more money in to education so we can teach our young people respect and values? How about we give them the skills they need to be productive members of society?



      Really? You think somebody’s going to come to Flagler County, rent a place for $600 a month or more for two months just because they can fill out the form at the tax collector’s office? And then go commit crimes with that gun?

      Do you understand that a person inclined to commit a gun crime can pick up a stolen gun for a couple hundred bucks in nearly any town in this country?

  4. GWOT Veteran says:

    Despite what the liberal media is telling you gun violence is down quite significantly, about 40% from the early 90’s based on numbers from Department of Justice. In the same time period the manufacturing and sale of firearms have both gone up quite significantly as well according to numbers from the BATF.

    The fact that more law abiding citizens are exercising their right to carry a concealed weapon should only worry those intended on committing a crime.

    Nancy, how often do you get shot at the grocery store around here? Because I do not recall to have ever heard of that happening on a regular basis in Flagler county,

    Tulip, you are wrong about people wanting to come here just for a concealed carry permit, you don’t need one to buy a gun and secondly there are much faster ways of getting it. Some states, with lower crime rate than Florida, do not even require a carry permit at all. Also, the modern sports rifles you are referring to are legal not because of the NRA but rather due to a series of events stemming from 342 chests of tea being dumped in Boston Harbor.

    With all the bashing of legal gun owners, please remember that your right to complain about us is listed in the constitution next to our right to be armed, take one right away and all rights are up for grabs.

  5. Dean Carpenter says:

    Take heart all of you in fear of citizens carrying guns. According to data from the Violence Policy Center (who loves to portray permit holders as the source of all violent crime) the homicide rate for Florida concealed carry permit holders is 1.125/100,000 compared to overall homicide rates 4.7/100,000 nationally and 5.2/100,000 in Florida during the same period. So if you are in Florida and dealing with someone who does not have a permit to carry you are more than 4 times more likely to be murdered compared to someone who does have a permit.
    Still you can work to add an amendment to rescind the right to keep and bear arms but remember that the Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that police are not Constitutionally required to assist or protect citizens. When was the last time you saw a police car with the words “To Protect and Serve”?
    Maybe you should just consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to send an application to the Florida Department of Agriculture for a permit to go to your place of worship. At least – not yet.

  6. Mike says:

    Nancy, do you ever read or watch the daily news out of Orlando? Jacksonville? Every day people are getting shot, robbed, car-jacked, home-invaded, raped and otherwise terrorized by CRIMINALS. Many concerned citizens choose to prepare themselves in case they are ever confronted by an enraged lunatic (borrowing your description). Perhaps if cameraman Adam Ward had been packing last week things would have turned out differently in Roanoke Virginia. Heaven forbid, but if you ever do have a confrontation with an armed crazy on the road or in the grocery store, I hope that there is an upstanding citizen nearby packing heat to assist you.

  7. groot says:

    I think it has to do with where a lot of residents come from and the mindset they bring with them. Also, a lot of elderly who need to feel for protection and in addition, all the inexpensive rentals here that are attracting people with records and hence, all the assaults, etc…Next time you get road raged, think about it, the guy in the other car may be packing and he or she may be an idiot. Suddenly, it’s not so important anymore. I would hate to be a cop in an area with so many guns out there.

  8. JJ says:

    I will gladly forfeit my CWL and turn-in all my guns the day the Government can absolutely guarantee my safety and families safety 24/7 365.

  9. Lancer says:

    This is awesome and should be posted all around the county. An armed society is a polite society.

    BTW, anti-gun nuts…if you don’t like guns, then do not own one.

  10. Gun Nut Nation says:

    The USA has, by far, the highest per capita gun ownership in the world. Progressives will tell you that this is what makes America the Murder Capitol of Planet Earth. But we’re not, and in this devastatingly effective Firewall, Bill Whittle shows why the center of Gun Nut Nation is in fact one of the safest places in the world.

  11. Rich Mikola says:

    I don’t even put out the garbage or walk my dog without my sidearm. Too many strange cars and people in the neighborhood. Saw a drug deal take place in the middle of the street (between two cars) in broad daylight. We need more police in the neighborhoods instead of PC Pkwy.

  12. Jack D. Howell says:

    Maybe the reason I have my permit to carry is because I don’t trust anybody! Sorry, but that is the way I feel which is my right.

  13. scrub jay says:

    I think I heard this right. We have 300 million people in the US. One million carry or have permits to do so. That’s the legal end of it. The under ground market for guns is cause for who is or isn’t watching the store .Much $$$$$ under the table.

  14. Sheila Skipp Zinkerman says:

    I am an active member of Every Town for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. I acknowledge a gun owner’s second amendment right to bear arms. I am also aware that fast-track concealed weapon permitting will be available in Flagler County.

    However, I also acknowledge my first amendment right to speak out against America’s lack of measureable, more effective, gun safety legislation that I believe will help prevent the slaughter of our unarmed citizens, whether the weapon used was concealed and permitted or not.

    Therefore, please pledge NOT TO VOTE for ANY POLITICIAN (caps for emphasis) who does not support reasonable gun sense legislation. Check their Congressional gun safety voting record on-line BEFORE you vote them in office. Gun violence statistics can be found on the websites below.

  15. PeachesMcGee says:

    Today I swung my front door wide open and placed my pistol right on the counter. I gave it ten shells, left it alone and went about my business.

While I was gone, the mail gal delivered my mail, the trash man picked up the trash, a girl walked her dog down the street and quite a few of my neighbors drove past.

Well, after about an hour, I checked on the gun. It was still sitting there right where I had left it. It hadn’t killed anyone even with the numerous opportunities it had been presented to do so. In fact, it hadn’t even loaded itself.

Well, you can imagine my surprise with all the media hype about how dangerous guns are and how they kill people. Either the media is wrong, and it is the misuse of guns by criminals, or I have one of the laziest pistols ever made.

    I must hurry off now and check on my spoons. I heard they are making people fat.

  16. David S says:

    Look at the gun crimes in Orlando and Jacksonville its out of control.

  17. DefenderOfThe2nd says:

    The problem here is not the guns, as people have been killed long before guns came to be. For all of you who believe that the guns are the problem, here is a simple question, when was the last time you seen a gun, by itself, kill someone? The answer is never. Its the mental state of the person who is holding the gun, that is the issue. People who are acquiring their concealed weapons permits, are the ones who will likely save you when something does happen. I suppose you also believe that its wrong to apply stereotypes to others in this world, but that’s exactly what you’re doing to us law abiding gun owners. Not everyone who owns a gun intends to kill. Someone could just as easily kill someone with a motor vehicle, do you want to take those away too? What about hammers? What about our hands? If someone really wants to kill another human being, there has been, and always will be a way without the use of a firearm. I’m sure most of you who are against citizens owning guns, probably believe that the United States needs to become a socialist country, and your political views are the same as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. We, as United States citizens have the right to own firearms, and have a right to defend ourselves, and those of us who choose to protect those rights, will do so with every ounce of American pride we have. The liberal views in this country are not going to make it very far, and if you think for once second that the government is going to tell us to hand over our guns, there is going to be hell to pay. The only way you will get our guns is to pry them from our cold dead hands. Another quick question……We are willing to die defending our Second Amendment Rights, are you willing to die trying to take them away?

  18. Gayle Ford says:

    How do you do a full background check in 3 days.. This is absolute garbage.. In no way can you tell me a background check that means they know without a doubt this person is safe mentally and has knowledge of use and protection for all No I thinks this is a foolish act.. I will scream to the highest level till the day I die
    No one..should have free will without education to own or use freedom comes with rules.. Our rules as a member of community have a right to feel safe.. Our rights are not being protected

  19. Anonymous says:

    There’s a reason people apply for gun permits and its pretty scary that Flagler is so popular….it must not really be paradise there. New inmate facility to house more inmates is a true sign crime in Flagler is on the rise.

    Seems the most logical and economical way to train employees is to have training in multiple places throughout the state permitting several counties at a time to attend or have a universal centrally located location within the state where training can be held and it wont require extendive traveling for so many counties. But then again who in government cares about money, they spend and tax more and more.

    Looking back at budgets before Suzanne Johnston became Tax Collector the annual Tax Collectors budget was only about $800,000—and now it is OVER $2 MILLION dollars!!! Every office has increased responsibilities and has not had such drastic increases. In fact the Tax Collectot’s office used to solely operated on fees collected when Suzette Pellicer was Tax Collector. No more, but alot of smack about how permits won’t coast any more—it must be the new Common Core math.

  20. Just me says:

    Amazing how the media and left in general has brainwashed some into believing that those who look to follow the laws on owning a certain item are the problem not CRIMINALS.

  21. Sherry E says:

    Nancy N has an excellent point. Remember Flagler Beach had a murder just a couple of year ago over a dispute regarding something as ridiculous as barking dogs! If a gun were not so easily available, chances are one “neighbor” would still be alive and the other would not be spending his remaining days in jail. . . . and their respective family and friends would not be in mourning over something so very stupid!

    Plus, the murder rate is now going up in many cities in the USA. . . this from Flaglerlive:

    Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities: ” Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014. More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014.

    In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year. Law enforcement experts say disparate factors are at play in different cities, though no one is claiming to know for sure why murder rates are climbing. Some officials say intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals, though many experts dispute that theory.

    Rivalries among organized street gangs, often over drug turf, and the availability of guns are cited as major factors in some cities, including Chicago. But more commonly, many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes.” From the Times.

  22. Knightwatch says:

    And the insanity continues, even spreads. This is like a “Walking Dead” nightmare. Responsible humans are cornered and losing the battle against armed and crazed NRA zombies. More guns, more blood is … good! These gun nuts, some noted above, will not be satisfied until everyone over the age of, say, 16, is armed and dangerous. Think of that … a wild west America where everyone packs a loaded semi-automatic to stores, theaters, churches, schools, and bars – even to the Italian American Club for dinner and dancing. And, more importantly, everyone gets to settle their own grievances immediately and forever with their beloved Glock. The police are needed to merely sort the bodies out. The courts — well, in Florida the dead guy is usually wrong, so what’s the problem?


  23. Wish we could go back in time says:

    Just relax and pay attention when you are out and about and you will realize how angry and inconsiderate people are in society today. I am amazed at what I see. Maybe I was naive when I was younger but I don’t remember people being so angry and inconsiderate 10 years ago, where have the times gone when a persons word meant something?

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