Air Guns Used to Qualify Florida CHL Candidates
Some of the 500,000 people holding concealed-weapons permits in Florida qualified by using air guns.
Some CHL trainers had passed students for merely pulling the trigger once or twice without ever loading or unloading a handgun.
Quickie permit classes have become so common that the National Rifle Association threatened this month to fire any NRA-certified instructor who didn't use real guns to teach students in Florida.
Though carrying a concealed weapon requires a state permit, gun owners need only take a gun-safety course and show they know how to safely fire a real bullet.
"Unlike Texas, we do not have to have so many rounds at 10 feet or so many rounds at 15 feet. Florida just doesn't have that," said Buddy Bevis, director of licensing for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Shoddy training became an issue more than a year after Col. James K. Otto Sr., an NRA instructor from North Florida, first complained to Gov. Charlie Crist about classes at gun shows.
Marion Hammer, a former NRA president and one of the state's most powerful lobbyists, alerted NRA national headquarters. Within days, every NRA-certified instructor in Florida was warned they would lose their credentials for not using real guns with real bullets in class.
"Specifically, Air Soft or other air-driven guns are not acceptable," stated the April 14 memo. "Florida law requires that you maintain records certifying that you 'observed the student safely handle and discharge the firearm.' "