Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton continued their battle over gun rights following his recent endorsement by the National Rifle Association.
Trump says Clinton’s positions are misguided because gun permit holders follow the law — and that includes Florida, where he says only a tiny speck have lost the right to a gun permit.
“These are among the most law-abiding folks statistically in the entire country,”Trump said. “In Florida, for example, they have issued more than 3 million conceal carry permits in the past 30 years. Only 168 have been revoked. That’s 0.006 percent.”
Trump’s statement isn’t exactly right because he is only citing a certain category of revocations. A Trump spokeswoman didn’t respond for this fact-check.
Number of Florida revocations
Florida’s concealed weapon permit program started in 1987. Florida is a “shall issue” state, which means it’s easier to get a gun permit here than in some other states, and Florida also grants permits to out-of-state residents.
As Trump said, 3 million permits had been issued in Florida over the last three decades -- 3.1 million, to be more exact. As of April, about 1.6 million people in Florida currently have the permits.
Trump got his facts wrong about revocations, because he only cited a slice of them.
Between October 1987 and April 2016, Florida revoked 10,841 concealed weapon or firearm license permits, according to a summary provided by the state’s division of licensing within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The 168 figure that Trump cited is the number of those revoked for misuse of a firearm.
There are various reasons that someone can have his or her gun permit revoked, according to state law. That includes permit holders who are convicted of certain crimes including felonies, those convicted of disorderly intoxication three times in a year, those committed to a mental institution, or those who due to physical problems can no longer safely use a gun.
In 2011, the state stopped providing a breakdown for the reasons that permits have been revoked and by law now only track the number of revocations.
What experts say about the revocations
Revocation data alone doesn’t tell the full story about whether nearly all gun permit holders are law-abiding.
In 2006, the state Legislature made the names of gun permit holders private, making it difficult for the public or journalists to examine whether there are questionable permit holders. That means we found little research about the topic in Florida, and much of it outdated.
A Sun Sentinel investigation of those licensed to carry guns in the first half of 2006 found that permit holders included:
- More than 1,400 people who pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies but qualified because of a loophole in the law that allows them to carry guns three years after they complete their sentences if a judge withheld adjudication;
- 216 people with outstanding warrants, including a Tampa pizza delivery man wanted in the fatal shooting of a teenager over a stolen order of chicken wings;
- 28 people with active domestic-violence injunctions against them; and,
- Six registered sex offenders.
The low number of revocations isn’t a surprise because the applicants had to meet criteria to get the permit in the first place, some experts said.
“Revocations are relatively rare largely because the permit-holder population was already ‘pre-selected’ to be relatively law-abiding by virtue of the requirement that applicants pass a background check to get a permit in the first place,” said Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy & Research, said that, as a group, concealed-carry permit holders have a below average rate of arrests and convictions.
“But the policy question is are Florida and the other states who have made it so easy for nearly anyone to legally carry a loaded gun in public safer as a result? The research indicates that they are not,” Webster said. “The best-case scenario is that these laws don’t affect violent crime, but the most rigorous research on the subject indicates that when states expand concealed carry of firearms, assaults with guns increase.”
Trump said Florida has “issued more than 3 million conceal carry permits in the past 30 years. Only 168 have been revoked.”
Trump cited the number of permits issued since 1987 but exaggerated how few had been revoked. Florida revoked 10,841 permits, including 168 for misuse of a firearm. We don’t know the full picture about who has a gun permit -- or had it revoked -- because the identities of permit holders in Florida are private.
We rate this claim Half True.
The statement: Florida has “issued more than 3 million conceal carry permits in the past 30 years. Only 168 have been revoked.”
The ruling: Trump cited the number of permits issued since 1987 but exaggerated how few had been revoked. Florida revoked 10,841 permits, including 168 for misuse of a firearm. We don’t know the full picture about who has a gun permit — or had it revoked — because the identities of permit holders in Florida are private.
We rate this claim: Half True.
Politifact Florida is a partnership between The Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.