We ask the ultimate from our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines. We put them into the battlefields of the world and ask that they put their lives on the line to defend our country and our way of life. When we do so, we provide them with the equipment they need to protect themselves and the weapons required to fight back. It would be unconscionable that we demand them to be disarmed in the battlefield, but sadly Florida’s Concealed Licensing system may require that they disarm themselves when they return home.

Florida statute §790.06(2)(a) states

Is a resident of the United States and a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident alien of the United States, as determined by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, or is a consular security official of a foreign government that maintains diplomatic relations and treaties of commerce, friendship, and navigation with the United States and is certified as such by the foreign government and by the appropriate embassy in this country;

Here in Florida, members of the military who are stationed abroad may find themselves ineligible for concealed weapons permits as documenting residency can get tricky. Also the Division of Licensing would reject fingerprints taken by military police as they are not a civil law enforcement agency. Finally, I know that I served with many non-US citizens. In fact, there were at least 4 members of my platoon at Parris Island who were foreigners looking to become citizens who signed up with the Marine Corps. Currently, they are not eligible for permits according to the statutes.

Another travesty is that we will put an 18 year old into the theater of combat, but will not trust them with a handgun when they come home.

I joined the Marines when I was 18. By the time I was 19, I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, California where I was an aviation electrician working on AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1N Helicopters. I was straight out of A-School when I transferred to Pendleton, and upon my arrival my classroom training was delayed due to flood damage to the school facilities. Instead, I was placed directly into a squadron and began learning on the job. The first thing I ever worked on on a Cobra helicopter were the weapons (fire control) systems.

Think about that. At 19 years of age, I sat in the cockpit of attack helicopters with the know-how to launch Hellfire & TOW missiles and to fire the 20MM cannons. I had enough knowledge to even start the aircraft up (although no ability to actually fly it). The military trusted me with a multimillion dollar aircraft, fully armed, at 19. The argument that people under 21 are too immature to handle weapons is patently false as is illustrated by the fine men and women who leave high school and join our armed forces.

Florida has no problem sending young adults to fight wars, but plenty of issues with them being able to defend themselves when home on leave. It is unfathomable how we can say that a soldier is competent enough to handle fully automatic weaponry, real assault rifles, and all the weapons of war but is somehow untrustworthy with a pistol carried in their waistband when they come home to visit friends and family.

Florida Carry is proud to announce HB 499 which was submitted Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Concealed Weapons or Firearms: Provides that otherwise qualified members & veterans of U.S. Armed Forces be issued concealed weapon or firearm license regardless of age or U.S. residency in certain circumstances; provides additional methods for taking of fingerprints from such license applicants.

HB 499 would correct the oversight that makes it difficult for our service members to obtain their concealed permit. Modeled after Texas law which permits their service men and women to apply for concealed handgun permits, these bills will honor our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines by showing them our trust as they defend their own lives here in the Sunshine state like they defend ours overseas.

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