Florida, with its miles of pristine beaches, vibrant resort cities, retirement communities and recreation-centered lifestyle, is considered by many political pundits and opinion pollsters as a bellwether state for its social and political trending.
That's why when the Sunshine State was the first to pass the one-million threshold for licensed concealed-weapon permits, those people who pay close attention to national opinions and trends took special notice.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the number of Florida CCW-permit holders stood at 1,000,645, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency directs the licensing program. Doubling since 2007, the number of permits currently exceeds 5 percent of Florida's 19.1 million residents.
And last week, it was reported by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that one particular demographic has seen extraordinary growth in CCW permits over the past decade, news that came as something of a surprise even to staunch supporters of Second Amendment rights and those involved in the firearms industry.
The newly released data indicated that as of March 31, nearly 35,000 women older than 65 are now licensed to carry a firearm for personal and home protection in Florida and its 35 reciprocating states, reflecting an increase of 619 percent for that demographic since the state's current carry law was implemented in 2004.
Furthermore, in the same time period, the number of Florida CCW permits increased by more than 40,000 for women—463 percent—in the youngest (21-35) age bracket.
End of 2012 numbers indicated about one in five Florida CCW permittees are women, a number that has grown exponentially since 2004. The number of women with concealed carry permits in Florida was approximately 48,000 in 2004, growing to around 146,000 by the end of 2011.
The statistical breakdown of Florida CCW holders is 182,000 in the 18-to-35 age group, 267,000 are between the ages of 36 and 50, 325,000 are between 51 and 65 and 219,000 are 65 and older.