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Florida approaches 1 million concealed weapons permits

12:17 PM, Jul 25, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It looks as though Florida will soon become the first state in the nation with more than one million concealed weapons permits.

The shooting spree in Colorado has prompted calls for more gun control and raised the question: is it too easy to get a gun permit in Florida?

Currently, about 950,000 Floridians have active concealed weapons permits.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who operates the gun permit program, says his office is issuing between 10,000 and 15,000 permits every month.

At that rate, Florida would pass the million permit mark before the end of the year.

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Putnam says Florida has seen increasing demand for gun permits in recent years. So he has hired more workers to handle the extra workload and expanded the state's Fast Track system.

That system allows gun owners to make appointments at one of eight regional offices around Florida and renew their weapons permits faster.

Putnam says the Fast Track system is "wildly popular" with gun owners.

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"The appointments continue to be full and it has really, we think, helped us to even out our workload around the state so it's not all falling on the Tallahassee office."

Putnam does not think it's too easy to get a gun permit in Florida.

"Florida has a strong tradition in upholding Second Amendment rights. 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."

About 6,200 gun permits have been revoked as a result of crimes out of 2.2 million issued since 1987. Permit holders can lose their gun licenses if convicted of a felony. Records show 168 permits were revoked for gun-related crimes.

Putnam says that very small percentage, about 0.003 percent, shows Florida's concealed weapons permit holders virtually always follow the law.

"There continues to be an extraordinarily small number of concealed weapons license holders who break the law. They are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens who for a variety of reasons wish to be given a concealed weapons permit."

This year state lawmakers lowered the price of a concealed weapons permit from $85 to $70.

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