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Florida lawmakers boost money for concealed weapons background checks

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers shifted $4.34 million on Thursday to cover a projected deficit caused by an uptick in people applying for concealed-weapons licenses.

Without comment, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, made up of House and Senate members, approved the funding request from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Licensing, which oversees permitting for concealed weapons.

“The Division of Licensing has experienced the largest call volume of concealed weapons license applications in the program history, with over 203,000 background checks billed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the first six months of the current fiscal year,” said Thomas Poucher, the department’s director of the Office of Policy and Budget. “This translates to an annual projected total of over 400,000 background checks to be processed through June 30, substantially above any prior fiscal year.”

The fiscal year began July 1 and will end June 30. The division had been authorized to spend up to $9.9 million for criminal history background checks for concealed-weapons license applicants, Poucher noted.

In the two years that Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has been in office, the number of concealed-weapons licenses issued by the state has grown from 1.95 million to 2.26 million.