On tax collectors, concealed carry licenses and TV reporters


If you watched several recent TV news broadcasts around the state, you might be under the mistaken impression that Florida’s tax collectors are soon going to be in charge of issuing concealed carry licenses.

While these reports created angst and outrage among gun owners who watched the broadcasts – fortunately they’re  not true.

I don’t like to correct the reporting of my TV news colleagues, since it could easily become a

Sen. Wilton Simpson

Sen. Wilton Simpson

full time job, especially when they report about guns and Second Amendment issues. However, this latest error requires immediate clarification as it threatens to derail some great legislation.

State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, recently introduced SB 544, which is designed to remedy the main problem with the state’s concealed carry program – the delay.

Simpson’s bill would authorize concealed carry applicants to drop off their application at a tax collector’s office. It empowers the tax collectors to take the applicant’s fingerprints, collect their money, take their photo and then ship the whole packet off – electronically – to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Division of Licensing.

As it stands now, applicants can apply for a concealed carry license by mail, or stop by one of the Division’s offices. Unfortunately, there are only eight regional offices, and it can take months to get an appointment. On the other hand, tax collectors are everywhere. Simpson’s bill would expedite the process by allowing the tax collectors to accept the applications too.

It’s important to mention what Simpson’s bill does not do. This is the part missing from the local TV reports.

The tax collectors will not issue any concealed carry licenses. They will merely perform a clerical function for the Division of Licensing – they’ll accept the paperwork.

The tax collectors will not approve the applications: They will not have any decision making power.

The tax collectors are not going to check to see if an applicant owes any back taxes before accepting the application.

Their role is limited to helping the applicant with their paperwork. They’ll make sure the application is complete before it’s sent off to the Division of Licensing, where the staff will then process the license request normally, as they have more than one million times before.

Simpson’s bill, as it stands now, has been referred to the Criminal Justice; Agriculture; Community Affairs Committee.

It deserves support, not suspicion.

Also, it’s strongly backed by NRA and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: On tax collectors, concealed carry licenses and TV reporters | The Gun Feed

  2. Mr. Williams,
    You are SPOT ON with your reporting. It appears to me that there are those in other media sources who like nothing better than distorting the truth and printing false information to illicit reactions for their personal position and agenda. THANK YOU FOR NOT BEING ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!
    Florida Tax Collectors currently are responsible for the collection and distribution of more than 4 billion dollars of public funds ranging from property taxes to driver licenses, from car tags & titles to hunting and fishing permits. By allowing these trusted elected officials to accept the CWP applications, it exponentially expands the amount of locations that citizens may choose to apply for their permit.
    This is great legislation whose sole purpose is to provide better customer service for the citizens by expanding their application options.
    Hooray for Senator Simpson’s visionary legislation – Hooray for the Tax Collectors who will voluntarily accept this process – Hooray for Commissioner Adam Putnam for accepting the Tax Collectors as his outsource agents and most of all Hooray for Lee Williams and the truth!

  3. Thanks much, John.

    It’s comments like this that keep me going.

    If this bill passes, it eliminates months of waiting for thousands of folks. I don’t understand how any gun owner can oppose that, unless they’ve been fed a faulty premise and then asked to respond.

  4. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller on

    “…the main problem with the state’s concealed carry program – the delay.”

    And here I was, dumb old me waiting for my Social Security check, thinking the big problem with the CCW process in Florida was its cost to the applicant.

    It always seemed to me that people who wait at bus stops or ride bicycles to and from work at odd hours, often in poverty-wracked neighborhoods, are the most vulnerable to criminals, so we would want to make sure they — the poor but honest crowd — could afford to protect themselves.

    But again, that’s just dumb old me.

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  6. Anthony Panetta on

    How secure will our records be with the Tax collectors office? I believe it would serve us better if the Tax offices would just provide the forms, self addressed and postage free envelopes ( the price of postage could be added to the CWP cost). A person could request the tax office if they so wish.

    A Bureaucracy tends to grow even when a small amount of work is added. We do not need another law to do this.

  7. The Liberal Media, with very few exceptions, will jump on, and blow up completely out of proportion, any story that casts guns and gun owners in a bad light.

    In fact, they will report Rumors, Scams, Half Truths, and outright LIES if it will further their anti-gun agenda. They seem to have no scruples or moral compass.

  8. I really do not understand how the misinformation reporting gets started. Any reporter that has made these decision to report on a government issue should have enough common sense to realize that a Concealed Carry Permit fee is a type of tax. One does not need to read the bill to realize this. However, I would think it would be responsible journalism to read any bill you plan on commenting about regardless if your comments are positive or critical. Furthermore regardless of what department the permit is processed through does it not make sense to allow the TAX COLLECTOR to collect the tax? Is there not a pretty good hint in the name tax collector what that officials duties are? Who better to help alleviate the backlog?I think some of this reporting is so ridiculous that they (anti gun reporters) are actually diminishing their reputation in the eyes of the public.

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