Whether it's a fear of increased gun control or a perceived rise in crime, the numbers show more people than ever are buying guns and getting permits to carry them. At least one area sheriff tells Channel 4's Rob Sweeting that is a good thing.
Gun sales are so high that some ammunition is in short supply and the wait to receive a concealed-weapons permit has increased.
Florida approved more than 90,000 permits to carry a weapon last year and already sent out 75,000 applications this year.
Gary Belson, who owns a security company and teaches one of dozens of concealed-weapons license training classes in northeast Florida, said his business has picked up.
"I've had a lot of people coming through the door," Belson said. "A lot of them are concerned about their personal safety and a lot of them are concerned about their constitutional right to bear arms."
The fear of stricter gun control under a Barack Obama administration is often cited as one reason gun sales have increased, but most people Sweeting asked about their reasons for getting a gun said it has to do with the rise in crime -- or at least the perception of it.
"When I'm alone in a parking lot, coming out of stores, going into stores or have the grandchildren with me, I feel I need it in today's worl, that extra protection," Donna Rodgers said.
Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler doesn't blame her. He said the average wait time for an officer to arrive at a call is eight minutes, and a lot could happen in that time.
"I think the public realizes it's going to take us awhile to get there ... and until we arrive, they're on their own," Beseler said. "So they have taken ownership of their own protection and they are going out and buying guns in great numbers."
More people are not just buying guns, but they are legally carrying them. Nearly 650,000 Floridians now hold concealed weapons permits.
The law allows a person to keep a gun a home and carry it in a car, as long as it's kept in something that closes with a clasp, zipper, Velcro, flap or strap. To carry a gun with them, they need to get a concealed-weapons permit
Anyone U.S. citizen over age 21 who is physically capable of safely handling a gun and can pass a background check for felony convictions qualifies. All they have to do is complete a firearm-training course and apply.
"I don't fear lawfully owned guns in the hands of honest citizens," Beseler said. "In fact, I'm a large proponent of people exercising their second-amendment rights to buy a gun (and) get familiar with a gun for their own protection."
While some law enforcement leaders are worried that more guns could lead to more shootings and violent crimes, Beseler doesn't agree.
"I think the more people that own firearms and have lawfully obtained a concealed weapons permit and are carrying those guns are actually a deterrent to crime," Beseler said. "If I'm a criminal and I know a vast majority of the population has the ability to protect themselves during that eight minutes they are waiting for law enforcement to arrive, I'm going to think twice before I attack somebody."
As an example, a homeowner in Murray Hill shot and wounded a would-be robber in his front yard in September.
Beseler said only a fraction of the crimes involving guns are committed by people with concealed weapon permits.
But gun opponents like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence fears that violent confrontations will increase as more people walk around with concealed weapons.
To find out how difficult it is to get a concealed-weapons permit, Sweeting recently went through the process. He found a certified trainer, took a course and received his firearms training certificate.