The case of teenage shooting victim Trayvon Martin, killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has shined a light on Florida’s gun laws, among other things. Zimmerman was licensed to carry a concealed firearm and he’s far from alone. As of last month, just under 920,000 Florida residents had concealed weapons permits.
Of course Zimmerman lost his permit after being charged with the murder of Martin, though he will be able to get it back if he is acquitted.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, about one in every 15 adults in the state has a permit for a concealed weapon. The majority of them are men and most are over the age of 50. The highest concentration of permit-holders is found in Miami-Dade County, where there are 82,000.
In the next few months, the number of permit-holders is expected to pass 1,000,000.
The rate of requests for such permits has risen over the past few years. The reasons are anyone’s guess. But some suggestions include economic uncertainty, mistrust of government, and fear of crime.
The last two months (February and March) were the busiest on record for requests to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who handles the concealed weapons permits. In February, there were 53,835 requests for new permits and renewals. In March, there were 52,712.
Getting a concealed weapons permit isn’t too difficult if you have a clean criminal record. But you can easily lose it if you are charged with an offense or if you are named in a domestic violence case. Since July of 2011, only 964 permits have been suspended and another 725 were suspended in domestic violence injunctions.
Some see the Martin-Zimmerman case as a rally cry for stricter gun control, while others say that the majority of concealed weapons permit-holders are law abiding citizens that don’t shoot people.
While people may have the right to carry a concealed weapon with a permit, it’s those that carry a firearm without a permit that face serious legal consequences.
If you are found carrying a concealed firearm, you could face 3rd degree felony charges and up to 5 years in prison with $5,000 in fines. Even if it isn’t a firearm, and you are found with a knife or other weapon, you could be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor and up to 1 year in jail.
Despite how easy it might seem to get a concealed weapons permit, the consequences of going without one are severe.
If you are facing a weapons charge, contact our offices today. We can help you determine the best course of action for your case in hopes of avoiding the most serious penalties.