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Gun permits would be easier to apply for under new bill

A new bill would make the process of applying for and renewing a concealed weapon permit in Florida easier and faster. The permits are extremely popular in the state, with more than a million Floridians carrying one.

If the bill becomes law, county tax collectors would be able to handle gun permit applications.

Right now, if you want a concealed weapon license, you have to go through the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It has only eight regional offices in Florida. The one in our area is in Fort Walton Beach.

"It's a great thing. I think it's something that's obviously needed," said Scott Frantz, who's had a concealed weapon license for more than a decade.

He supports the bill, saying the application and renewal process, parts of which can be done by mail, should be sped up.
   
"I travel a lot on the Interstate for work," Frantz said, "And it's just a good thing to have just in case anything ever happens."

Kim Andrews, of Pensacola, however, says she's wary of the legislation.

"I'm not sure that we need to make it easier for people to carry guns," Andrews said,"It's already something people really need to think wisely about and it's not something we need to necessarily make easier."
   
The bill is sponsored by two Republicans, State Senator Wilton Simpson of Trilby and Representative James Grant of Tampa.
 
Their proposal wouldn't change any of the requirements for getting a license. They say it's just about making the process more convenient.

Again, to be clear, right now it's the state Department of Agriculture not county tax collectors that handles gun license applications.
   
A final decision on the bill, meanwhile, is expected to be made during Florida's next legislative session, which begins in March.