A motion to move a case concerning concealed weapons licensing to the Florida Supreme Court was denied by the 1st District Court of Appeals in a 12-3 vote on Friday.
The case was filed by a Floridian, identified as R.C. in court documents, who was denied a concealed-weapons license by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). R.C. was convicted of a felony in 1969 and his civil right to possess a weapon was restored.
In June, the appeals court ruled in favor of R.C., stating that the DACS’ findings to deny him of a license were “not supported by competent, substantial evidence and its conclusions of law are erroneous.” The “evidence” relates to DACS use of the National Instant Criminal Background check system known as NCIS that the court suggests was negligent in recognizing R.C.’s documentation that restored his federal right to carry a firearm.
However, in a dissent from June’s ruling, Judge Susan Kelsey indicated that the DACS was unauthorized under state law to access other sources of information regarding R.C.’s criminal background. She asserts that additional background information must be obtained through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Firearm Ineligibility Appeal process, rather than the DACS overriding that process for “independent determination.”
The request to move the case to the Supreme Court was in an attempt to overrule the June decision and to “certify a question of public importance” regarding the case.
The three dissenting judges for Friday’s decision include Kelsey, Judge Ross Bilbrey, and Judge Scott Makar. Makar wrote, “What’s changed—obviously—is a monumental and destabilizing shift in the long-standing interpretation of Florida’s firearms law as applied to those with felony records: the Department can no longer rely—as it has for decades in safely administering the concealed weapons statute—on the most critical source of criminal justice information available to law enforcement officials at FDLE in reviewing the concealed weapon applications of those with felony records.”
He then asks, “How could a district court decision—one that could lead to felons (and other persons who are not properly cleared) receiving concealed firearms licenses—not be a matter of great public importance for our supreme court’s consideration?”
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