While the nation takes a closer look at gun control laws in the wake of the massacre in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced that Florida soon may become the first state in the nation with more one million concealed weapons permits.
During a press conference July 25, Putnam said his office, which operates the state's gun permit program, is issuing between 10,000 and 15,000 permits each month. Currently, about 950,000 Floridians carry active concealed weapons permits.
Putnam said the state has seen an increasing demand for gun permits in recent years. As a result, he has hired more employees to handle the workload and has expanded the state's fast-track permitting system, which allows gun owners to renew their weapons permits more quickly.
Although he said the eight fast-track offices in Florida are doing a brisk business, he does not believe it's too easy to get a gun permit in Florida.
"Florida has a strong tradition in upholding Second Amendment rights," he said. "The Florida Legislature has been very clear about that. The track record of administering the program in our office and when it was in the Department of State has been one that is thorough and efficient."
For the most part, said Putnam, permit holders in the state are law-abiding citizens. Only 6,200 gun permits have been revoked out of the 2.2 million issued since 1987. Of those, 168 were revoked due to gun-related crimes.
So, how easy is it to obtain a concealed weapons permit?
Smooth Action Firearms. 833 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon offers classes every Saturday and Sunday.
Students receive basic firearms safety and an overview of state laws to carry a concealed weapon. The 3 1/2-hour class, including range time, costs $55. Upon completion, the student will have met all the necessary requirements to apply for a Florida concealed weapons permit.
The Brandon Gun School at 776 W. Lumsden Rd. in La Viva Plaza, Brandon, offers concealed weapons classes for $49. The 4 1/2-hour one-day course is offered every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
After completing this course, the student receives a certificate which allows him to apply for the permit.
The Tampa Regional Office of the Division of Licensing, 1313 Tampa St., Tampa, is able to issue a license within eight to 11 days. The seven-year concealed weapon permit costs $117.