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Fear Factor: Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million in Florida as NRA Gains Ground

| April 4, 2012

Talk about concealed.

With more than 800,000 issued, nearly one in every 15 Florida adults has a license to carry a concealed weapon, according to data compiled by the state.

The number of concealed weapons permits has risen dramatically in recent years as new laws making it easier to obtain them have been placed on the books by lawmakers, spurred on by the National Rifle Association, one of the most effective lobbying forces in the capital city.

The laws have come under scrutiny since the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot to death in February by a neighborhood watch member who was charged with a felony in 2005 (the charge was reduced then dropped when he agreed to enter a pre-trial diversion program) and who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. George Zimmerman, 28, contends he was defending himself under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute passed in 2005. He has not been charged. (An earlier version of this story had incorrectly stated that Zimmerman was a convicted felon.)

Gun control advocates say lax gun laws in Florida are at least partially to blame for Martin’s death. They also say Florida is being used as a test case for gun control legislation in other states.

“In Florida, being armed in public is such a casual formality that law enforcement does not issue the license to carry a loaded, concealed gun; that is done by the Department of Agriculture – the same agency charged with issuing permits to pick tomatoes or transport livestock,” said Dan Gross, of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, during recent congressional testimony.

Among Floridians over 18 years of age, about 6.5 percent have applied for and received permits to carry a concealed weapon. Add the 104,210 permits brought into the state by out-of-state visitors and the total rises to 906,924 as of Feb. 29, according to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the licensing program

Dixie County leads the state in the number of concealed weapons permits issued per capita, with nearly one in 10 residents of the rural county licensed to carry. It is followed by Monroe County, which is the Florida Keys, where 7.3 percent of the population is licensed.

Seven Florida Counties –Gilchrist, St. Johns, Sumter, Lafayette, Glades, Liberty and Calhoun– have the lowest per capita concealed weapons rates in the state, all under 3 percent.

Statewide, the per capita average is 4.2 percent. Take out children under 18, who make up about 21 percent of Florida’s population, and the rate rises to 6.1 percent.

Florida lawmakers in recent years have approved several bills to relax gun regulations and bolster protections for gun owning Floridians. Earlier this year, lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott that would allow military personnel and law enforcement to obtain concealed weapons permits before they turn 21, the age requirement for other applicants. The reasoning is those people carried guns around the military, so it seems odd to deny them the right once they get out.

Last year, Scott signed a pair of NRA-backed measures, including a proposal spelling out what doctors can ask patients about guns in their homes. With supermajorities in both chambers, the Republican-dominated Legislature sent Scott another NRA-backed gun bill that would punish local officials who consciously enact ordinances that are stricter than statewide standards.

State officials overseeing the licensing of concealed weapons experienced a deluge of requests in recent years. Officials said there was a fear that when President Obama was elected, gun laws would get tougher. Though they didn’t, it seems to have created a rush to get guns. The spike has also been attributed to the decline in the economy and fears of more lawlessness.

In 2009, nearly 120,000 applications to carry concealed weapons flooded into Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson’s office, creating a 55,000-application backlog despite efforts to add more staff to process the requests. Since then, the number of permits has grown from about 600,000 to more than 802,000.

Despite the attention brought by the Martin case, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said lawmakers should refrain from “overreacting” and changing Florida’s slate of existing gun laws.

In recent years, Negron pushed for the legislation to pre-empt local gun ordinances.

“I don’t think we should use the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and it is a tragedy, to make changes to either “Stand Your Ground” or Florida statutes as they relate to concealed weapons,” Negron said.

–Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida

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45 Responses for “Fear Factor: Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million in Florida as NRA Gains Ground”

  1. Yellowstone says:

    “Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million” and anyone of them can shoot you dead in ‘self defense’ and get away with it.

    Why? Dead men tell no tales . . .

  2. B. Claire says:

    The stupidity of that stat – Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million in Florida – is only surpassed by a state’s citizens allowing the NRA to buy enough politicians to pass these train wreck laws.

    Heard more than once in the past month alone … Florida is a Freak Show… just on the idiotic, aka murder, Stand Your Ground law.

    Where are all the normal people who live in this state? Better wake up & vote out these bought & paid for, NRA extremists.

    • Layla says:

      This law was established because the murder rate here in Florida was out of control. People were being robbed and killed left and right. There was a reason for it, B.

      It does not, and should not prevent prosecution. It merely gives you the right to stay alive. The police cannot be everywhere.

      • FlaglerLive says:

        Layla, you are, as usual, wrong, making statements that are demonstrably false and passing them off as fact. I’m making a point of this here because you’re also in the habit of casting the sharpest stones at others for their alleged misinformation or “hate.” When the pot so chronically calls the kettle black, it may need a little break from the coals.

        The Florida murder rate had fallen significantly almost every year in the 10 years prior to the enactment of Stand Your Ground. But the murder rate jumped significantly immediately after the enactment of Stand Your Ground, back to levels not seen since the crime-ridden years of the early to mid-90s. Here, based on the FBI’s Unified Crime Reports’ annual numbers, are Florida’s murder rate for the period (murders per 100,000 population):

        1996: 7.47
        1997: 6.90
        1998: 6.48
        1999: 5.68
        2000: 5.64
        2001: 5.33
        2002: 5.45
        2003: 5.43
        2004: 5.44
        2005: 4.97 [Stand Your Ground enacted July 1.]
        2006: 6.24
        2007: 6.58
        2008: 6.34
        2009: 5.48
        2010: 5.25

        Thank Bush for the recession, which cooled the nutsoids’ heels and reduced crime across the board, across the country, even in New Dodge. We may disagree about the causal relation between the numbers and the law’s enactment. We may not disagree about the fact that the murder rate was falling before the law’s enactment, and that it rose after it. Your statement, “This law was established because the murder rate here in Florida was out of control,” is flat out wrong. At any rate, please, Layla, try not disseminating more misinformation than absolutely necessary when you are able to do your own fact checking at the click of a mouse. Thanks.

        • Layla says:

          This is the site I was using, Flagler Live. I didn’t intend to pass anything off as fact, only to make a statement. I also was not aware I was casting the sharpest stones. Apologies to all who may have been offended. It was a comment, that is all. Most definitely not intended to be a condemnation of any sort.

          Florida Law Enforcement Agency Crime Reports:

        • ThomasP says:

          I’m curious about your nebulous ‘murder rate’ and that being equated to guns. Last time I checked, baseball bats, knives, tire irons and piano wire all were capable of ‘murder’. Also, it is my understanding that in order for the ‘murder’ to count in this statistic, someone must be CONVICTED of murder in a court of law. Sadly, the killing someone in ‘self-defense’ is counted in most US ‘murder rate’ statistics. This happens because the CDC gets the information from the hospital/morgue on ’cause of death’. At the time of death, the investigation will not have concluded and a court will not have had a chance to render a verdict. Thusly, these statistics include; suicides, self-defense, murder and accidental deaths.

          Please see the following:
          Scroll down to the FL statistics and note the graph. Since the outset of the Florida right-to-carry law, the Florida murder rate has averaged 36% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 15% lower.

          I would be more interested in having the discussion of how many lives guns SAVED and crimes were averted. I would look to Layla’s link and note that the ‘property crimes’ per capita has been falling ever since CCW was brought to Florida as well as other violent crimes.

          Remember Gun Controls, is never about Guns, but always about Control.

      • ThomasP says:

        Layla, What is also very interesting is that while there may be a temporary spike in ‘homicides’ in Florida, there was a HUGE DROP in property and violent crimes State-wide…I would call this a market-place correction.

        As the criminal element gets weeded out of our general population, which may take some time, good Citizens are going to have to have the backbone and steady nerves to persevere until every criminal realizes that the FIRST LINE OF LAW AND ORDER is the Armed Citizen….Police are like media reporters they just show up after the fact to write stuff down flawed or one-sided information for others to read and make an opinion on.

        After a self-defense shooting:
        1. Never talked to the Police about what you did.
        2. Tell them you want to make a Statement about what the Attacker did and that you want to file a Complaint. Tell them what the Attacker did, never comment on what you did.
        3. Exercise your Right to Remain Silent and NEVER try to justify your actions. If they believe there is something more to the situation, then they can talk to your Lawyer.

    • Darby says:

      Maybe, just maybe everyone who has a concealed weapons license is the ” Normal ” person.

  3. Chuck says:

    We as tax paying citizens have the right to protect ourselves. If you don’t want to protect yourself or your family from criminals that don’t follow the laws that’s your right, but don’t try to make the law abiding citizens like me look like the bad guys.

  4. Unapologetically American says:

    God bless America and the 2nd amendment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To all the anti gun people who are about to comment your more than welcome to move out of Florida to a state with more gun “controled” state. Im sure the criminals follow those strict gun laws to the “T”.


    • forwardthinker says:

      You gun totin’ dummies are all the same… yapping off at the mouth with your patriotic bullshit , giving everybody your my way or the highway, orders and acting like you even understand the 2nd amendment. The NRA is just taking your money, over and over again and laughing all the way to the bank. Ever notice how many requests you get for donations from them… So, Unapologetically, maybe you should stop giving orders and watch out that some “zimmerman” doesn’t kill you over some skittles.

  5. Dave says:

    I would much rather be the one telling my side of the story to the police rather than be he one laying on the table, I support NRA 100 per cent, better safe than sorry : )

  6. jack says:

    If you have any questions about the CWP law or training contact or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you

  7. Think first, act second says:

    Since 1791 we have had the right to have guns, Amendment 2 of the constitution gives that right. Now more than 250 years later those opposed to guns think they can remove that? Go ahead, but it will take a constitutional amendment and good luck with finding congressional members who will support that action. I personally don’t own a gun, but I will strongly support anyone who wants to own ones right to do so, as well as the rest of the constitutional provisions, since the majority of Americans have passed it and many have lost their lives so we can still live under it.

  8. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    George Zimmerman is a convicted felon? Do you have a source for this claim? as this is the first time I’ve seen him described as a convicted felon. He was arrested and charged with a felony in 2005, but the charge was dropped to a misdemeanor. Is there another incident?

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Thank you, Flagler Live, for posting this excellent article and for asking the people who comment on this site to do a little easy fact checking before spouting misinformation. Raising these discussions to a more educated level would certainly benefit us all.

    Yes, the 2nd amendment gives us the right to bear arms. BUT, it does not say that right should be completely unregulated. The constitution was written when the entire world was completely different. In my opinion, not every person should be entitled to carry such a dangerous weapon, especially one that is concealed or automatic. True, rational, law obiding citizens would have no problem submitting to a background check or a 7 day “cooling off” period, etc. before taking on that kind of responsibility.

    • Think first, act second says:

      The Florida Statute that covers this subject is 790.06 and gives the requirements for obtaining this license and what hoops an applicant has to jump through. Had you checked the facts you would have found that you say a 7 day “cooling off” period before getting the license, but much more than that is necessary to
      obtain this license. It further says this: “The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall, within 90 days after the date of receipt of the items listed in subsection (5):
      1. Issue the license; or
      2. Deny the application based solely on the ground that the applicant fails to qualify under the criteria listed in subsection (2) or subsection (3)”
      See within 90 days not just 7 after all facts are verified. Check out the Florida Statutes for yourself to confirm that some of us do check the facts, but apparently you are not one of us.

  10. JL says:

    I believe we should have the right to own guns. However, that should not include assault rifles. And I do not think it should be so easy to obtain a concealed weapons permit. Protecting your home and your family does not mean you need to be carrying a gun into Walmart, or following kids around your neighborhood because “they look like they’re up to no good”.

    • ThomasP says:

      Why would you only want to protect your family while in your home? When you travel the courts have ruled that your hotel room is your ‘home’ and your vehicle is your ‘private’ space. So why would you forfeit your Right to defend yourself in public again?

      Criminals love tourists and out of towners because they don’t know where the local police offices are and may be more concerned about making their flights than reporting crimes. Of course, if they can still make their flight and not end up in a dumpster.

      Gun Free Zones only work for Law Abiding Citizens…Should stores post signs saying that Stealing is Against the Law? No, everyone knows that Stealing is against the law just like Murder…yet people Steal from Wal-Mart all the time…Good Guys with Guns will Deter more criminals than Signs ever will…

    • forwardthinker says:

      Now we’re talking some sense. Making it easy for the Zimmermans to get concealed weapons permits is like the GSA spending over a hundred thousand dollars or more for a Vegas weekend, when they are supposed to be the agency that makes sure our money doesn’t get used for frivolous things. So, giving concealed weapons permits to yahoo’s is pretty much the same thing… ridiculous

  11. michelle says:

    Used my gun just the other day. There was a rattler in my yard.

  12. Outsider says:

    Sherry, I agree people should not spout misinformation. In that spirit, I would lime to inform everyone that there are very few people carrying “automatic” weapons. On a broader note, I would lime to point out that the Trayvon Martin shooting was actually a failure of the law. I’m not saying it is a bad law, but that the real success of the law are the crimes that were NOT committed as a result of would be criminals knowing any person could be armed and able to defend themselves. Of course, they would be difficult to quantify and as such there are no headlines describing them. If anyone is interested in actual accounts of real crimes being prevented, including names, dates, and outcomes, the NRA’s monthly “American Rifleman” publishes a half dozen accounts in their “Armed Citizen” column. You generally won’t find these accounts on ABC, CBS or NBC, nor, presumably, Flagler Live?

  13. Elana Lee says:

    Here, based on the FBI’s Unified Crime Reports’ annual numbers, are Florida’s murder rate for the period (murders per 100,000 population):

    1996: 7.47
    1997: 6.90
    1998: 6.48
    1999: 5.68
    2000: 5.64
    2001: 5.33
    2002: 5.45
    2003: 5.43
    2004: 5.44
    2005: 4.97 [Stand Your Ground enacted July 1.]
    2006: 6.24
    2007: 6.58
    2008: 6.34
    2009: 5.48
    2010: 5.25

    Is there any information that ties these increased murders directly to the individuals who legally own guns? Or can it be inferred that the increased murder rate has nothing to do with the Stand Your Ground Law, and murders/violence to increase somewhat with the decline of the economy? Overall the economy has been on a downward trend for a while and there was that ‘near miss’ in 2008. Just look at the suicides when the stock market collapsed during the first Great Depression. Bad economy, unemployment, increasing prices (gas), stresses people out. It could be that increased stress is to blame, not the NRA, not the new gun laws, and certainly not guns themselves. Just my opinion of course.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    @Oustider. Is “obvious” why that statistic comes only on the NRA’s “Armed Citizen” column….maybe say” Like asking the fox how many chickens are left in the coop? We are not as dumb yet.
    Being already an elderly I never had the need for guns to be safe…just be cautious, alert, pick the right friends and keep close the dial to 911 all my life, to avoid danger. I had the invitational opportunity to practice target shooting and own guns, but turned it down because I had no use to be bully and also more important yet sensing it, to be right out more dangerous “to use guns that using my brains”.
    I prefer the beisball bat approach in case a criminal breaks in my house with bad intentions.
    @Lyla this time Flagler Live was correct as in your link provided you misread the data, as also shows murders increased after Bush signed that law in 2005. Look at 2006 and on.
    Is important we keep our fact finding correct in as much as we can….as even I have goofed here and there.
    Then now I try to verify the same data from different sources.

  15. palmcoaster says:

    @Michelle. I am so sorry for the rattler because probably she was here for generations before you and I ever put a foot in this area. If we are all to use our wildlife for target shooting we sure lower our stature and image below those on third countries, that hunt them for food. By doing so we just generate more negative imbalance in our natural surroundings. There are other ways than killing, of removing nuisance wildlife. Chase it and make enough commotion and scare them away or call 1800-636-0511 Wild Life Management for advise. Lets try a little kindness, after all we are all Gods creatures and sure, they were here first.

  16. There you go says:

    Obviously the people are speaking…they want to stand their ground!

  17. Christie 2012 says:

    A 50 year old man was pulled from his vehicle and beaten with a hammer by 2 teenagers only a few miles from where trayvon was killed in Sanford. Maybe if the gentleman was carrying his weapon, he would not be in ICU fighting for life and Johnny taxpayer would not paying for these 2 scumbags to in jail.
    A 78 year old man assaulted by 6 youths:


  18. Sherry Epley says:

    Just to clarify my position, I was referring to purchasing and owning a gun, in general, in the state of Florida. Once a firearm is in one’s possession, how many policemen would it require to keep it from being concealed. . . really??? It would be very interesting to know how many people are “accidently” wounded or killed each year simply because a loaded gun was left in the wrong place, or someone used/cleaned a gun irresponsibly.

    A simple list of Florida gun statute notes from Wikipedia may be useful here:

    OverviewSubject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes

    State Permit to Purchase? No No None
    Firearm registration? No No None
    “Assault weapon” law? No No None
    Owner license required? No No None
    Carry permits issued? No Yes Chapter 790.06 Concealed carry only; no open carry allowed, even with permit
    State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes Chapter 790.33
    NFA weapons restricted? No No None
    Peaceable Journey laws? No No None Federal rules observed

    • Think first, act second says:

      Ms. Epley,
      If you want a thread on buying weapons, why not ask for one. This thread specifically says “Fear Factor: Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million in Florida as NRA Gains Ground” not purchasing guns.Gun control is one issue, carrying one of them concealed is another and there is a legal way to do that and an illegal one. Everyone, except you, has been discussing that thread, which you also make reference to in your post. I tried to find which Wiki post lists what you say, but could not, what I did find was the Florida Statute that tells how to obtain a permit to carry one concealed, 790.01 which references 790.06. You might want to try that one and you will know what we are talking about.

      [Think First: please don’t arbitrate what commenters may or may not address in each thread. That’s our job, and we try to be light-handed about it, much as some commenters occasionally make that difficult. Ms. Epley’s comment is well within the bounds of our policy–as are your fine and enlightening ones as well. Thanks.FL]

  19. Sherry Epley says:

    Here is a link to a well worth reading analysis of gun related deaths in different states, from an article published in ” The Atlantic” in 2011:

    • Think first, act second says:

      I looked at this link and some of the information is alarming, but Florida is the only one I live in and the one I am interested in, and also the subject of this thread. Florida is mid range of the issues and the article also says this “Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation”
      which to me means concealed weapons controls.

  20. B. Claire says:

    Fear Factor: Concealed Weapons Approaching 1 Million in Florida as NRA Gains Ground

    ADD to this 1 Million licensed guns + the thousands more unregulated gun show gun purchases, sold out of car trunks guns, stolen guns etc.

    This where we’re heading? This finally make you gun-ed up enough?

  21. Layla says:

    Gun Control:

    The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that bullet wound.

  22. Justin says:

    I am very pro-gun, have a concealed weapons permit, and even a legally-attained silencer. But I do agree that guns and CCW permits are issued a little too easily, but the problem with regulation is that many times they trample basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution. And like how it is with almost any new law/regulation: if you give a little you pave the way to have a lot taken away. But that being said, I would not fight against making the background checks a little more extensive, especially when it comes to getting a CCW. I can say that in my experience talking with other people, alot of them have the wrong idea of when it is legal to even pull a gun out, let alone pull the trigger(the only time you should pull a gun out is because you’re about to pull the trigger), so better education is really needed when someone takes the CCW course. The Stand Your Ground Law means you don’t HAVE to flee an attack, that you can meet force with EQUAL force. But obviously, shooting someone should be the absolutely LAST resort. Not just for legal reasons, but for humane. Even in “clean” shoots, you will probably experience backlash in some way or another that will make you wish you never had to shoot. When I bought my silencer I had to get it signed off by the sheriff, pay a $200 fee, and the ATF handled the background check and registration. Maybe they should handle CCW too? I admit that many people have a CCW permit who really probably shouldnt.

    • B. Claire says:

      Hi Justin,
      Thnx for your post…interesting.

      And the reason for the silencer….is….?

      • Justin says:

        Hearing protection!! J/K. Just because I thought it was cool. Guys(alot, anyways) like guns & action movies. Put the two together and you have the desire to buy one for yourself. It’s just another “toy”. Like any un-needed thing, whether it be fast cars/motorcycles, 80″ flat-screen TV’s, granite counter top, etc.: u get it because u like it, and just because u can! And just in case anyone is interested, they’re not as quiet as the movies make them out to be!

  23. palmcoaster says:

    There is a place for concealed weapons even worst than Fl, and is Arizona where you don’t even need a permit to carry a concealed weapon…since Jane Drinkwine Brewer signed into law.

    • B. Claire says:

      Ever notice…new maps of U.S. … FL, TX & AZ shows chalk outlines in lieu of borders around their states?

      Govs Scott, Perry, Brewer soooooo proud!

  24. kafantaris says:

    It is time that we look at the Trayvon Martin killing for what it is — a criminal homicide, only incidental to race. One cannot draw a much different conclusion by listening to the cries for help heard in the recorded 911 calls.
    Even without them, however, it seems improbable that a confident, stocky-build man, with a gun in his holster, would need to beg for help — notwithstanding the claims of Zimmerman, his father and his brother. Our understanding of human nature and common sense tells us that such cries would come from someone who is severely threatened and acutely aware of his imminent death.
    Any doubts of this are removed by merely listening to those multiple “help, help” pleas loud enough to be picked up during the 911calls. Aside from their heart-wrenching intensity, we also note that these cries go on for over a minute. Was Zimmerman telling Martin during that time that he was about to pull the trigger? Why else would Martin need to plead for help with such desperation?
    If Zimmerman was threatening to shoot Martin in those two minutes before we hear the shot, what we have then is a cold blooded murder – and by one clever enough to now use our racial divide to get away with it. We should see through this tactic and not let him do so. Not only because such defense would further divide us, but also because an unrepentant criminal would get away with murder.

    • Think first, act second says:

      I have an idea, kafantaris, why don’t we wait for a grand jury to hear ALL of the evidence before we, who know only part of it, make a decision that it was an illegal act. You are probably one of those who complains about all of the innocent people (wrongly convicted) in prison, I am, but not the guilty ones (rightfully convicted.)
      Justin, what good would making the background checks more intense do, I do agree that a very thorough investigation should be made, but it is not those who plan to use a gun for an illegal act that are applying, those don’t want any information about them owning a gun available.

  25. Layla says:

    I will be VERY relieved when they are finished with this investigation. As for concealed carry, from what I am reading it does not look like they are investigating those supposed background checks. Not much good, if they don’t. Zimmerman was told to retreat and he did not. That seems to be key here. I don’t see any defense against that.

    I am also very concerned about those wanting to yell racism. We don’t know if that is true yet. Please be patient and allow the law to work. If it was racial, we have Hate Crimes law which could be used.

    I am worried about the people in Sanford. They have been through a lot.

  26. Howard Duley says:

    You can only get killed once so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I for one am going to do everything I can to stay alive including killing the person who is a threat to me. The police are always late to a murder. have you ever noticed that?

  27. john stewart says:

    Two black men pulled a 50 year old white man from his car and beat his head in with a hammer..he is now in ICU on life support..I bet if he was carry a legal handgun..this would have turned out a lot different. Same town..Sanford fl..

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