published: Friday, April 13, 2012
1 in 17 has concealed gun
Nearly one in every 17 Florida adults has a license to carry a concealed weapon, with Lake County ranked 13th statewide in the issuance of such permits, according to figures compiled last month by the state.
Florida's gun laws have been in the headlines since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in February by a neighborhood watch member in Sanford. The shooter, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, contends he was defending himself under Florida's Stand Your Ground statute and has not been charged.
Last month, Leesburg was sued for not throwing out its outdated gun control laws following a new state law that supersedes all local ordinances. The lawsuit was filed by Florida Carry Inc., an organization backed by Florida gun owners.
While conventional wisdom may lead some to believe the population rank of a county would mirror its concealed weapons permit rank, this is not the case, according to figures compiled in March by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the licensing program.
Lake County is ranked 19th among Florida's 67 counties in population at 297,052, but it is ranked 13th statewide in the issuance of permits for concealed weapons -- 19,713. Sumter County, on the other hand, is ranked 36th in population at 93,420, but 45th in concealed weapons permits -- 2,440.
Lake actually has more concealed weapons permits than the combined totals of more than 20 mostly rural Florida counties.
Of the other six counties adjoining Lake, half of them -- Orange, Polk and Volusia -- have some of the highest rankings in the state for concealed weapons permits, the agriculture department said. Orange is No. 5, followed by Volusia at No. 10 and Polk at No. 11.
Under Florida's concealed-carry law, gun owners don't have to explain why they want to carry one or demonstrate they can hit a target. Applicants must pass a criminal background check and a class lasting up to four hours on self-defense law, safe gun handling and marksmanship.
Some states set stricter requirements, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.
In Texas, applicants must pass a 10- to 15-hour class and a timed shooting test with a minimum score of 70 percent while firing 50 shots over three distances, the Times reported.
Texas has about 6 million more residents than Florida but half as many concealed-weapons permits, according to records from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas' 461,724 permits amount to one for every 37 adults.
California, twice as populous as Florida, has just 38,122 active concealed-weapons permits, according to the state attorney general's office. That's one for every 688 adults, the Times reported.