Florida concealed weapons permits soon to reach 1 million milestoneby Dara Kam | December 12th, 2012
Florida is on track to hit the one million mark for active concealed weapons permits – more than any other state in the nation – according to Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Putnam, whose office issues and oversees the permits, told reporters Wednesday that there are currently about 993,000 permits in the state. At the rate the concealed weapons permits are being issued, Putnam said he expects Florida to hit the 1 million mark – the highest in the nation – sometime next week.
Nearly one in 14 Floridians over the age of 21 have the permits, according to Putnam’s data. Permits are restricted to those over the age of 21 unless they are in the military and to those who have not been a convicted felon or have had their gun rights restored.
The number of permits has steadily risen since the state first began issuing the permits 25 years ago.
Last year, 151,883 permits were issued, second only to the 167,240 permits issued in 2010. About 80 percent of the current permit-holders are men, and nearly than one-third are between the ages of 51 and 65, according to Putnam’s department. The vast majority of permit holders are white or Hispanic, Putnam said.
Nearly one in 14 Floridians over the age of 21 have the permits, which are restricted to people over the age of 21 unless they are in the military and to those who have not been a convicted felon or have had their gun rights restored. About 90 percent of the permit holders are Florida residents, Putnam said.
Only about .3 percent of the 2 million licenses issued over the life of the program have been revoked, Putnam said. Licenses can be revoked when someone is found guilty of committing a felony or been deemed to be mentally incompetent by a court.
Florida’s concealed weapons permits came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who has a concealed weapons permit, claimed he shot and killed the unarmed teenager in self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman was later charged with second-degree murder.
Putnam said he held the press conference to announce the milestone because he’s asked about the concealed weapons permits more than any other topic. And he said the low revocation rate proves the system is working.
“So clearly, Floridians who are obtaining these licenses are obtaining them for the right reasons and overwhelmingly using them in an appropriate way,” Putnam, who said he has a concealed weapons permit, said.
Putnam gave a National Rifle Association-ready response to a question about what the milestone means about Florida and its culture.
“I think that surpassing the one million active license tells us that Floridians have a great respect and appreciation for their Second Amendment rights and that firearm ownership whether for personal protection, for sport or for collections is a popular thing,” he said.