Florida Appeals Court on “Shall Issue” permits: “No discretion to deny an applicant that meets criteria.”

A Florida Appeals Court ruled that since Florida is legally a “shall issue” state, they have no discretion to deny a permit to an applicant that meets the criteria. It seems that Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried got her hands slapped by a judge for denying a permit to an appellant. Thirteen out of the 15 judges ruled in favor of the appellant.

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R.C. sued the state of Florida because he did meet the criteria, but the concealed permit was denied.

In 1969, R.C. was convicted of a felony for stealing an eight track player in Charleston, Illinois. In 1971, his probation was terminated early and the Governor of Illinois restored his “Rights of Citizenship.” He later applied for, and received, an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, an Illinois Concealed Carry License, and completed concealed carry firearms training. The record suggests that after 1969, R.C. spent the next five decades without another criminal conviction.

When R.C. moved to Florida, he applied for a Florida license to carry a concealed weapon. Relying on a federal law that governs federally licensed firearm dealers, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services denied his application. Because the Department’s findings of fact are not supported by competent, substantial evidence and its conclusions of law are erroneous, we reverse.

Florida Appeals Court Ruling

The Agriculture and Consumer Services Department did not give R.C. a formal hearing on the matter, and refused to look at his documentation because they relied totally on the NICS response.

R.C. expressly disputed the factual basis for the denial and invoked his right to a formal evidentiary hearing under chapter 120,” the order states. “He acknowledged that he was convicted of a felony in Illinois in 1969. But he explained, and provided proof, to the Department that Illinois restored his firearm rights and issued him an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and an Illinois Concealed Carry License. R.C. submitted a restoration of rights certificate from the Governor of Illinois and court documents reflecting the restoration. He argued that he can lawfully purchase and possess a firearm.

The Department rejected RC’s request for a formal hearing, and referred him to an informal hearing instead.

“The Department refused the formal hearing because it argued the NICS result was binding as a matter of law and, unless R.C. was disputing the existence of the NICS result, there were no genuinely disputed issues of material fact,” the order states. “At the informal hearing, the Department elected not to provide a representative and submitted nothing. The hearing officer reiterated that the denial of R.C.’s application hinged on the NICS results.”

In their final order, the Department said that R.C. is “prohibited under Federal law from possessing a firearm pursuant to NICS.”

Quite the contrary, the law requires the Department to issue the license unless the applicant is prohibited by Florida or federal law. Determining an applicant’s eligibility is the Department’s responsibility. The Department must evaluate the evidence and reach a reasoned conclusion,” the order states.

The 1DCA also found that R.C. should have received a formal hearing.

“The Department’s finding of fact that R.C. is prohibited from possessing a firearm is not supported by competent, substantial evidence. The Department’s legal conclusion that the NICS result required the denial of R.C.’s concealed carry application is erroneous. We reverse and remand for further proceedings,” the order states.

Lee Williams at The Gun Writer

Nikki Fried, the woman in charge of the permits is known for not being particularly gun friendly. We’ve written about her before:

For whatever reason, no one entered the final outcome of R.C.’s case into NICS. It leaves the whole “Background check” idea irrelevant to the truth. But at least in this case, R.C. will get his formal hearing or Nikki Fried will be in deep hot water for ignoring a court order.

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Featured photo: File

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