The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 1:00 am

The Florida example

Indiana would do well to follow Sunshine State on gun permit requirements

Jay L. Butler

I have been reading with great interest the letters to the editor concerning the General Assembly's House Bill 1369.

I am a senior with more days behind me than in front of me, and I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I carry a concealed firearm during all my waking moments and have a firearm close when I am sleeping.

Having said that, it may be surprising that I disagree with those who support HB 1369, which would allow universal carrying of a firearm, based only on interpretation of the Second Amendment.

And let me say again, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. But also believe that I, as an individual, have certain obligations before exercising that right.

As to why I think I need to carry a firearm, it is because a police officer will never be at my side quickly enough to protect me, should I ever require it. And, importantly, I believe this is my right as a citizen of the United States.

I am a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association and a certified NRA firearm instructor. I have served as a chief range safety officer and taught about 100 men and women to be range safety officers, preparing them for NRA certification. I still spend time as a range safety officer on the firing range of the Izaak Walton Rifle & Pistol Range, a member-only range that offers guest privileges and firearm-protection classes to the public.

Ask any one of the 40 or so active range safety officers I associate with, and our stance on the Second Amendment will vary. But we all agree on this point: We all see new members and guests every week coming to shoot for the first time, who are a danger to themselves and those around them. Our job is to assist them in safe gun handling and to enforce gun safety on our ranges.

I received my first concealed carry license in Florida. I was required to take a gun safety course and show gun-handling proficiency on a live-fire range before I could apply for a Florida concealed weapon permit.

Written proof of completion was a requirement of my application, followed by the normal background check and fingerprinting. Incidentally, my Florida permit also requires a photo, the same as a Florida driver's license. Finally, I had to take an on-site computerized gun safety test.

Then, and only then, was my data forwarded to the feds for the background check, followed by receipt of my license if I passed the check.

My wife, by the way, had to go back to the Florida concealed-carry testing facility because of an irregularity in her fingerprints. She is a retired nurse, and hospital staff are susceptible to degradation in their fingerprints with their frequent use of anti-bacterial gloves. She did receive her permit, but only after this double-check and submission of evidence of her past medical background.

Did we consider this an invasion of our rights under the Second Amendment? Absolutely not; it was due diligence.

I also hold a concealed carry permit here in Indiana, but I was not required to show evidence of knowledge of gun safety, proficiency in gun handling or take a written test. I value both permits, but which do you think I am more pleased with as a gun safety instructor? Which do you think I will show first if ever I need to show my permit to a police officer?

It will always be the Florida license first.

Incidentally, the laws on obtaining a concealed-carry permit in both Florida and Indiana state that the state “shall” – not “may” – grant a permit upon meeting their requirements, an important distinction.

So, I find myself in agreement with the recent writer who concluded that that our state legislature is not only wrong on HB 1369, but is moving in the wrong direction. We should be emulating Florida.

Jay L. Butler, a Fort Wayne resident, is a certified National Rifle Association chief range safety officer and instructor.

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