Nearly 2 million Floridians now have concealed weapons permits, tops in nation

TALLAHASSEE — Already leading the nation with the highest number of concealed weapon permits, Florida is nearing a new threshold: granting authority to 2 million civilians who can lawfully carry guns tucked in waistbands, under jackets or inside purses into restaurants, shopping malls and elsewhere.

Sometimes called the “Gunshine State,” Florida had a total of 1,971,997 currently valid concealed weapon permits as of March 31, according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The number grows about 17,500 each month. Additionally, 12,745 judges, correctional officers, military or law enforcement officials hold permits in Florida.

At the current rate, Florida — with its population of 21.3 million people — was expected to surpass the 2 million mark for civilians before summer, said Stephen Hurm, director of licensing at the state agency that issues permits.

Florida already leads the United States in total number of currently valid permits, according to data from the Crime Prevention Research Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that is pro-gun rights and studies gun ownership, crime and public safety. Texas has the second-highest number, at 1.36 million as of December, according to figures from that state’s Department of Public Safety.