In a one-of-a-kind system unknown in other states, Florida’s wildly popular Concealed Weapon or Firearm Licensing program is overseen by the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture, in this case Nikki Fried.
Florida’s licensing division, which to date has issued more than 2.4 million CWFLs, is subordinate to Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. State lawmakers once flirted with the idea of taking the CWFL program away from Fried and transferring responsibility for the concealed-carry licenses to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but, ultimately, the changes were never made.
Fried is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in the Gunshine State, where last week Republican voters finally outnumbered registered Democrats. She is also the only state official known to possess both a CWFL and a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, regardless of the federal legal problems this creates when she purchases a firearm.
Now, Fried is using access to confidential gun-owner data that her position offers, in her campaign for governor against incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Fried has shrugged off scrutiny about her actions as well as attempts to gain clarity and accountability.
On July 27, at approximately 1:07 p.m., Fried tweeted: “I just suspended the concealed weapons permits of 22 people involved in the insurrection against the United States of America instigated by Donald Trump on January 6, 2021.”
Anti-gunners lauded her decision and her tweet.
“Thank you for being a real American. Those folks do not need to carry weapons,” one replied.
Gun owners saw it differently.
“So, you’ve stripped them of a constitutional right before they’ve even been convicted? I can’t wait until DeSantis destroys you because someone who abuses their position for political reasons should be in jail,” one replied.
State law allows Fried to suspend the CWFLs of licenses who are charged with certain crimes – usually felonies or misdemeanors involving domestic violence, which would prohibit someone from purchasing a firearm – until the final disposition of the case. However, not every crime qualifies. Several of the Jan. 6 attendees were charged with misdemeanors that would not prohibit a firearm purchase.
Fried’s 22 suspensions raised the question of whether she was taking legal action as the state official in charge of the CWFL program, or whether she grandstanding as part of her gubernatorial campaign.