Young Americans for Liberty president Cliff Maloney is pursuing litigation against a Florida official for thwarting his ability to obtain a firearm amid social distancing restrictions in response to coronavirus.
Mr. Maloney sent a letter on Wednesday to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services commissioner Nikki Fried threatening litigation because of the commissioner’s decision to suspend online applications for concealed weapons licenses amid the coronavirus outbreak.
While Ms. Fried, Florida Democrat, closed off online applications for concealed carry licenses, she was scheduled to appear in an online town hall with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden on Wednesday evening.
Ms. Fried was listed as moderator of a discussion with Mr. Biden during the virtual rally on Wednesday, according to Mr. Biden’s campaign website which has since removed the webpage. Mr. Maloney’s letter was sent to Ms. Fried when she was moderating the discussion, according to Mr. Maloney.
“It’s truly sad to see Nikki Fried exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to further her anti-Second Amendment agenda,” said Mr. Maloney. “She can host an online fundraiser for Joe Biden, but she can’t accept online applications for concealed weapons licenses? Commissioner Fried needs to stop infringing on the constitutional right of Floridians to protect themselves and their families.”
Ms. Fried wrote to Florida state attorney general Ashley Moody last week to explain that the decision to stop concealed weapons license applications online was made to prevent frustration from applicants unable to get fingerprinted and because Ms. Fried’s department had no mechanism to refund denied applications. Ms. Fried’s offices were closed until Thursday because of social distancing guidelines, and her office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“[W]hile you have selectively chosen to limit the manner in which applications to obtain a concealed weapons license may be submitted to the Department under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have not done the same across the board for all other online applications your Department accepts that require fingerprinting,” Mr. Maloney wrote in his letter on Wednesday. “It is arbitrary and capricious for you to allow Floridians on one hand to apply for a Hemp Cultivating License online during the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires fingerprints, but at the same time prohibit Floridians from applying for a concealed weapons license online.”
Open carry of a firearm in Florida is only lawful under certain circumstances, such as for target shooting and hunting. By closing her department’s offices and suspending online applications for concealed carry, Mr. Maloney’s avenues for lawfully obtaining a firearm were substantially lessened by Ms. Fried’s actions.
“It is not for you or the Department to decide how and if an applicant may meet the criteria for obtaining a concealed weapons license during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Maloney wrote. “Provided that the statutory elements are met by the applicant, the Department has no discretion, and may not withhold a permit from any individual seeking a concealed weapons license based on any subjective beliefs.”
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