Florida is expediting concealed weapons permits for active-duty service members and veterans in reaction to the shootings at military recruiting centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that left five dead.
Adam Putnam, the Republican commissioner of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Safety, said he want to issue the permits within 30 days to qualified active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans. State law only requires permits to be issued within 90 days, The Tampa Tribune reported Friday.
Mr. Putnam’s move, announced last week, expanded an executive order by Florida Gov. Rick Scott that gave preference to Florida National Guard members who apply for conceal-carry permits. The governor’s order also directed the guard’s adjutant general to temporarily move National Guard members from storefront recruiting centers to armories for their protection.
Active-duty military members or veterans who want to get a concealed weapons permit can go to the nearest office of the Hillsborough County Tax Collector. They must show military identification or honorable discharge documents when making their application, The Tampa Tribune reported.
But the order will probably have little effect on service members and veterans’ gun buying behavior, according to vets in the area.
Scott Neil, a retired Army Green Beret, told the Tribune most veterans he knows have concealed weapons permits and said the current 40 to 60 days it takes to get a permit seemed “pretty reasonable.”
However, the Chattanooga attacks by a shooter who had visited radical Islamist websites has ignited fears that other service members would be targeted next by radical jihadists.
“It’s a certainty that veterans are being actively stalked and attacked,” Mr. Neil said, the Tribune reported. “I think the public is hyper-nervous and concealed weapons permits are more of a public display by the political leadership of doing something more than nothing.”
In the wake of the shootings in Chattanooga, groups of armed civilians have begun stationing themselves outside recruiting centers to prevent another attack while the Pentagon and state governors have taken steps to increase security at recruiting centers across the country.
Last month, the Department of Defense asked civilians not to stand guard at the recruiting stations.
“We take the safety of our service members, our DoD civilians, and the families who support them very seriously, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently reviewing recommendations from the services for making our installations and facilities safer — including our recruiting stations,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.
“While we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support for our recruiters from the American public, we ask that individuals not stand guard at recruiting offices as it could adversely impact our mission, and potentially create unintended security risks. We continue to partner with and rely on first responders for the safety of the communities where our service members live and work.”