MIAMI
12/12/2012 05:37 pm ET

Florida To Reach One Million Concealed Weapons Permits Next Week, State Says

If there were any doubt about the Sunshine State becoming the "wild, wild west," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Wednesday that Florida will soon notch its millionth concealed carry weapons permit.

A press release from Putnam's office hailed the benchmark as a "milestone" that "highlights history, privacy protections, and [the] success of [the] program" since Florida issued its first statewide concealed firearms license in 1987.

The state reports 997,066 valid license holders as of Wednesday, a number Putnam estimated will balloon to seven digits sometime next week -- faster than any other state in the nation. One in 17 Floridians already had a license to carry a hidden firearm when the state reduced application and renewal fees in July.

When the millionth permit is issued, the name of the holder will not be available. Since 2006, the identities of concealed permit holders were removed from public record, following the signing of a bill backed by the NRA and its top Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer by then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R).

While Putnam hailed the state's firearms program, the high-profile shootings of unarmed Florida teens Trayvon Martin in March and Jordan Davis in November have incensed gun control activists.

“Jordan Davis’ tragic death is the classic example of the problem with concealed carry,” Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, told The Huffington Post's Janell Ross earlier this month. “We have looked at enough of these cases to see this mindset that concealed carry seems to create. You see that pattern over and over and over again -- people get into an altercation over a parking space or just garden-variety disputes that then escalate."

According to the Violence Policy Center's database, 499 people have been killed by permit holders between May 2007 and November 2012, including 14 law enforcement officers, 23 people killed during mass shootings and 35 incidents of murder-suicide.

The number of gun applications in Florida and across the United States has spiked since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. And according to First Coast News, background check applications in Florida spiked 14 percent -- to 2,386 per week -- in the aftermath of the Colorado movie theater massacre.

According to demographic information released by Putnam's office, roughly 55 percent of Florida permit holders are 51 years or older and 79 percent are male.

Though required on concealed carry permits, ethnic demography was not released.

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