As of March 31, Florida has amassed nearly two million concealed carry permits, leading some to dub it the “Gunshine State.”
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has granted 1,971,997 valid concealed weapon permits, and with 17,500 new permits granted each month, the number will surpass two million by the end of May, Fox News reported.
Stephen Hurm, director of licensing at the issuing state agency said, “Florida has a population of 21.3 million and will likely exceed the 2-million mark for civilians [permits] before summer.”
While Florida leads the country in concealed weapon permits, Texas comes in second, with 1.36 million as of December.
‘GUNSHINE STATE’ – Florida is nearing a new threshold: granting authority to 2 million civilians who can lawfully carry guns tucked in waistbands, under jackets or inside purses into restaurants, shopping malls and elsewhere. https://t.co/c2LhtdONaw
— News4JAX (@wjxt4) April 10, 2019
The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist in Florida, Marion Hammer, said, “It’s not safe out there and people are taking responsibility of their own safety and the safety of their families.”
Gainesville resident Maribeth Porter Williams got her permit after she complied with Florida’s laws. She said, “I can certainly protect myself or defend my home, but really I enjoy going to the gun range and shooting.”
Under the current Florida law, concealed carry permit applicants must be 21 years old, undergo training, demonstrate they can safely fire a gun on a range, submit fingerprints to the state and have no felony criminal record. Anyone with convictions for domestic violence or a record of drug or alcohol abuse are ineligible.
Once approved, the permit is good for seven years and it also includes knives and stun guns.
Even with a permit, no one can carry a weapon into schools, post offices, court buildings, airport terminals, police stations or on university campuses.
Anti-gun protestors are appeased because the process to get a concealed carry permit in Florida is extensive.
Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando said, “I wish it was that process for every single person that got a firearm. Today, someone who shouldn’t have a gun can go to their second cousin and say ‘Hey, sell me that gun for $1,000 cash,’ and the law today does not deter that person from selling that firearm.”
State Democrats have been working on stricter gun laws but none are likely to pass the Republican majority. In contrast, Republicans have introduced State Bill SB1238 which would allow religious institutions and private schools to authorize people to carry guns in their facilities.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley said, “I’m encouraged that more people take responsibility for themselves and others because law enforcement can’t be there. The violence is not in the firearm; the violence is in the heart of the person.”