It’s no joke. The Sunshine state has a new nickname – the "Gun-shine" state. Florida getting the distinction for issuing more concealed weapons permits than anywhere else in the country. In fact, this year, it passed the one million mark, the only state to do so.
“I work in a highly volatile area. Sometimes I have to stay late. I have to come home early in the mornings and I feel safer having my gun for protection,” says permit holder Nally, a mother of two young boys.
Nally says she never goes anywhere without her Ruger 380 semi-automatic.
“If anything should happen, if anything should arise, whatever it is, I know that at least I have the opportunity to make the choice to protect myself.”
At the National Armory gun store and range in Pompano Beach, concealed weapons courses have gone from roughly a dozen students a night to sixty.
“We have a lot more people coming in, people that never had firearms permits or even shot guns before,” said, owner Gary Lampert. “We have a lot of people coming in their seventies and eighties, a lot of young women.”
The number of people requesting applications for concealed firearms licenses skyrocketed following the killings in Newtown, Connecticut earlier this year. So much so, many scrambling to sign up for classes, fearing further gun restrictions by the federal government.
In January, more than 120,000 applications were filed. That compares to 47,000 last January.
“I think the concern is that everybody’s got a handgun and they’re going to use it at the wrong time,” exclaimed concerned Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Hilliard Moldoff. “This is not the wild west.”
Gun control advocates are concerned that the permits invite violence. The irony: violent crime has dropped to the lowest point. State records show, while permits are up 90%, violent crimes committed with a firearm dropped 33-percent.