NRA and new Ag Commissioner at odds over concealed carry permits

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Newly elected Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is drawing fire from the NRA.

She wants to move the issuance of concealed carry permits to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

She joins Democratic lawmakers who are planning to introduce legislation making the change for the 2019 session.

The effort comes after an incident earlier this year where an employee at the Department of Agriculture failed to conduct full background checks for nearly 300 applicants.

Current Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam called the problem isolated when asked June.

“Two hundred and ninety-one people who should not have gotten a license to carry a concealed weapon did so, but they were revoked as a result of the processes that we put in place,” said Putnam.

Former NRA President Marion Hammer worries giving law enforcement control over concealed carry permits is a slippery slope.

“Previously it had been handled by 67 different counties and abuse at the hands of county sheriffs was rampant,” said Hammer.

The NRA does agree the permitting process should be taken away from the Department of Agriculture, believing it would be in better hands under the control of the Chief Financial Officer.

“The second amendment is a guaranteed right under the constitution,” said Hammer. "It needs to be under an elected official answerable to all of the people.”

CFO Jimmy Patronis says he’s open to the proposal, but the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Legislature.

Democrats are still drafting legislation to move the permitting process to FDLE.

Republicans are expected to introduce a bill sending the permits to the CFO.

We reached out to Fried’s communications team for this story, but they were unavailable for comment.