TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida will soon have 1 million people with valid permits to carry a concealed weapon.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Wednesday that the state would cross the milestone sometime next week. Putnam said the state has the largest number of concealed weapon permit holders in the nation.
"The more people that are lawfully carry firearms, the better I feel. I feel they're no danger to anyone except criminal element in our society," said Florida Carry Inc. counsel's Eric Friday.
Friday fights for gun rights and believes the concealed carry law in Florida is beneficial.
"Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is a good thing. And two, will the Obama administration in the second term move to regulate firearms?" said Friday.
The number of people applying for concealed weapon permits has risen sharply over the last four years. Many say the reason is the fear that Washington D.C. will pass stricter gun laws.
Hitting the 1 million permit mark will mean one out of every 19 people in the state will be armed.
"Maybe there are too many people just randomly carrying guns," said State Representative, Reggie Fullwood.
Jacksonville's Reggie Fullwood is a State Representative and said he's not against the 2nd Amendment. However, he said he has deep concerns about guns and their availability.
"When almost everyone has a gun and issues arise with music too loud and a guy uses his gun and kills someone. Well that guy went off the deep end. So it is alarming. If you have a clean record you can get a gun," said Fullwood.
Florida has more than 19 million people. Of the 1 million with permits, 219,000 are seniors and 200,000 are women.
Putnam said that four out of five people with a permit are male. And roughly 10 percent of those with a valid permit are not state residents.
Anyone who is 21-years and older and is a legal resident or citizen of the U.S. can apply for a permit. Convicted felons who have not had their rights restored and those judged mentally incompetent are ineligible.
"Responsible use of these licenses is overwhelmingly the rule, and with only .3 percent of licenses having been revoked for inappropriate use, I think the statistics support that," Putnam said.
The state hit a snag in 2009 as permits flooded in, but now the office issuing the licenses has been beefed up and applicants are being processed in about a month.
Florida's conceal carry licensing program was stared in 1987. Since then, more than 2 million people have been issued permits.
Next week will make the first time more than a million have been active at once. Since 2000, the number of licenses requested has increased more than 580 percent.
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