TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - They're tucked in waistbands, holstered around ankles, and stashed inside purses; Florida leads the nation with the number of people who have concealed weapon licenses.
The Sunshine State has even been nicknamed the 'gunshine state,' where about 12% of adults have licenses to carry a gun out of sight from those around them.
According to the Department of Agriculture, as of March 31, a total of 1,971,997 licenses were issued. That figure doesn’t take into account the 12,745 judges, correctional officers, military, and law enforcement officials also holding permits.
"I think it’s fantastic, an armed society is a polite society,” said Marna Tracy, owner of Tampa Tactical Supply. “Carrying concealed allows you to protect yourself and keep that you’re carrying a secret."
The Riverview shop offers a concealed weapons course, teaching people the law and making sure they know how to handle their firearm.
"I think everyone should have a concealed weapon license, just because you have a license doesn’t mean you have to carry,” firearms instructor Stephen Price said. “If everyone had a license, every criminal would expect everyone to have a gun."
The number of people with permits grows by the thousands every month and Florida is likely to hit 2,000,000 by summer.
“People are realizing that the way to be protected is to protect yourself," said Price.
Prospective license holders must be at least 21, go through training, demonstrate they can safely fire a gun, submit fingerprints to the state, and can't have a felony criminal record.
While many folks want the license for safety, there are other reasons for concealed carry.
"I don’t carry normally, so a lot of people get them so they can purchase, or they get them for, in the future, in case they go someplace that might be questionable, and then they’ll carry,” explained Gerry Harris.
Here in Florida, the license also allows you to carry other weapons like knives and stun guns.
Permit-holders are not allowed to carry guns in schools, post offices, court buildings, police stations, or university campuses.