Just months after Adam Putnam’s Department of Agriculture failed to conduct federal background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, has released a video taking on the NRA. Her message: Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner shouldn’t work for the NRA, and it’s time for an Agriculture Commissioner who puts Floridians safety, first.
“For eight years Florida’s Department of Agriculture has been run by the NRA. After the failure to perform background checks, we cannot afford another NRA sellout putting our safety at risk. My opponent Matt Caldwell is more of the same. He is endorsed and A+ rated by the NRA—he voted against the School Safety Act passed after the Parkland tragedy and has spent nearly a decade in office doing their bidding.
“I have a message for the NRA—your control over concealed weapons permits is finished. As commissioner, I won’t be beholden to you, but to the people of Florida. I will do my job and stand up for what’s right.
“This isn’t partisan—background checks save lives—without violating our 2nd amendment. We’ll conduct a full audit of the permit process—to ensure complete, thorough background checks. It’s time for the people to govern.”
During the period that coincided with the June 12, 2016, shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead and 53 injured, Florida saw a lapse in background checks that included the biggest spike in concealed weapons permit applications in Florida history.
In nearly every other state, law enforcement or criminal justice agencies are responsible for issuing concealed handgun permits. That was the case in Florida, too, until the NRA got involved. Prior to 2002, the Division of Licensing, which manages the concealed weapons permit process, was housed in the Department of State. Lawmakers in Tallahassee moved the program to the Department of Agriculture following lobbying from the NRA.
An Independent Inspector General’s report showed the Department of Agriculture systematically mismanaged the concealed weapons permitting system for more than a year. It’s clear that the system should be managed by an office that puts Floridians safety first, not someone that places the NRA before Florida’s citizens.