One million citizens in Florida are licensed to pack heat and countless more people without a conceal carry permit own guns. But who are they and does the public have a right to know?
Earlier this week. a New York newspaper posted the names and addresses of gun owners online, sparking outrage from the NRA. We checked to see if the same thing could happen in Florida.
“That’s malicious conduct.” Former NRA President Marion Hammer is disgusted by the posting. She says not too long ago Florida journalists were doing the same thing.
“They published the names of prominent business people, politicians, judges and that’s where they made their mistake. They made the wrong people angry.”
But all that changed in 2006 with a new state law that exempts conceal carry license information from public records requests.
Conceal carry permits are awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, after a background check. The information is stored on a database which, according to department’s spokesperson Amanda Bevis, can only be accessed by a few people.
“The data is stored on a secure network requiring an individual username and password, so that only individuals that should access the information can," Bevis said.
While there is a list for permit-holders, state law bans the government from collecting data on non-permitted gun owners. Gun sales are recorded by individual dealers. Each purchase is given a number and the buyer can only be tracked down during a criminal investigation.
Even police can’t access the state conceal database without probable cause. For instance, if you’re pulled over for speeding or a seat belt violation and there's no reason to believe you’re a physical threat, the officer can’t check to see if you have a gun permit.
But if you’re pulled over for DUI, or an officer sees ammo or gun accessories in the car, the officer can then check the database.