TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The letters arrive here from Cincinnati, Covington and Lawrenceburg. Inside there are applications for a Florida permit to carry concealed weapons.
No, the applicants aren't planning for a hunting trip to Florida. They're getting a non-resident CCW permit that works back home.
Florida's mail-order permit allows someone to carry a concealed handgun in 32 states including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The permit is also easier to get than those in Ohio and Kentucky, which both require applicants to complete specific hours of training, and demonstrate competency on a shooting range.
Out of state applicants can simply mail a certificate for a basic hunting safety class, along with their fingerprints and photographs. After a thorough background check, the permit arrives in the mail.
Kentucky and Ohio already honor each other's permits through reciprocity agreements. But while an Ohio permit holder can carry a concealed firearm in Indiana, an Indiana permit holder cannot carry concealed in Ohio.
That's because Indiana's permit requires no training whatsoever.
When it comes to training requirements, "some states are significantly less than 12 hours," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "Under current Ohio law we can not grant them reciprocity."
Other states, like Colorado, will grant a permit to someone after they take an online class as short as 90 minutes. Ohio requires 12 hours of training, and the instructor must sign off that the student is competent with a handgun. Kentucky requires eight hours of training, and the student must hit a standard target a certain number of times to qualify.
Applicants can bypass those shooting requirements in Kentucky and Ohio by applying for a Florida non-resident permit that's good for seven years.
Combining Florida's permit with one from Kentucky expands the number of states where a person can carry concealed to 39. Check the interactive map to see where each state's permit is valid. Phone and tablet users, go to http://bit.ly/U9qT1W
In the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut, applications for concealed carry permits are already up in the states where the process is streamlined. A robust debate is underway nationwide, with some suggesting fewer guns are the answer, while others say more armed civilians would act as a deterrent and give victims a fighting chance.
Many states, like Ohio, have "open carry" laws allowing anyone to carry a gun on their hip with no permit required at all. Recent rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States have affirmed the second amendment as an absolute right to gun ownership and possession for the purpose of self defense. Because the second amendment is a right, and not a privilege, an federal appeals court ordered Illinois to develop a concealed carry law where there is currently a statewide ban.
No matter where people stand on concealed carry, most agree the more training the better.
"I've carried a pistol for over 43 years," said Tom Wood, a retired Cincinnati police officer and owner of Woodhill Training . "But I've never had to pull it out in a civilian situation, because of being aware and alert -- keeping level headed, and training."
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