TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The controversial idea of allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry on college campuses is back before state lawmakers Wednesday morning. The number of people getting concealed carry permits has been growing by about 20,000 a month.
When military recruiters were attacked this summer, Florida moved active military and veterans to the top of the line of concealed carry permit applications, cutting what could be a three-month process to just days. Lawmakers will be asked to ratify the move Wednesday morning.
There are now more than 1 1/2 million Floridians with concealed carry permits.
"We had a high water mark in 2012, where almost 200,000 applications were submitted to the department," said Aaron Keller, of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "This past year, that number was closer to 130,000, so it really does fluctuate, but we are seeing increased demand, continuing to see a lot of demand."
The state is also six months into allowing tax collectors to process concealed carry applications. The move to allow tax collectors to process applications doubled the number of places to submit applications.
At a Tallahassee gun range, every seat in every class offered is full.
"It's very steady and constant," Talon Range owner J.D. Johnson said. "We're running at full capacity and probably if we offered more classes, we could probably fill more classes. We just don't have the time to do it."
"So why do you think people want that training?" asked reporter Mike Vasilinda.
"I think they want the training to feel safer in their daily lives. I mean, we have a lot of people that see the news, that hear of all the bad things going on in the world and I think they are looking for some understanding and feel the need to protect themselves," Johnson said.
In August, Florida processed more background checks for guns than in any August in more than a decade. The National Rifle Association said people want to protect themselves.
"I would expect to see a corresponding bump in applications for concealed weapons license following a record month of gun sales," said Marion Hammer, of the NRA.
Instructors said having a concealed weapons carry permit is more than just knowing what to do with a gun. It's a lifestyle change.
Trainers said part of the lifestyle change is knowing when to walk away.