Fact check: About 2.5 million people have concealed carry permits in Florida

·4 min read

The claim: Over four million people in Florida have concealed carry permits

A series of recent mass shootings have reignited the national debate about guns and the issue of concealed carry permits, which allow people to carry a legally owned firearm hidden from public view. Some social media posts are exaggerating the number of permit holders in Florida

"Welcome to Florida. Over 4 million of us have concealed carry permits. Enjoy your visit," reads text in an image shared June 12 on Facebook.

The post generated over 800 interactions in less than a week. Similar posts have amassed hundreds of interactions on Facebook.

But the claim is off the mark.

A little over 2.5 million people have valid concealed carry permits, according to data from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim.

Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks

Data on concealed carry permits in Florida show a lower number

The latest data from the department shows 2.5 million people in Florida have concealed carry permits as of May 31. That's about 15% of the adult population, according to U.S. Census figures.

Out of this group, 819 licensees are circuit and county judges, and 13,452 licensees are retired law enforcement and correctional officers, data shows.

To be eligible for a concealed carry permit, residents must be at least 21 years old, demonstrate "competency with a firearm" through documentation of approved training courses, and be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S., according to the agriculture and consumer services agency.

Florida also recognizes "concealed weapon licenses issued by other states if the other state agrees to recognize Florida concealed weapon licenses," according to the department's website. Florida has this reciprocity with 37 states, and data shows that there are 213,036 people with concealed carry permits who live out of state.

Fact check: Biden once said he 'never believed' gun control, federal registration would reduce crime

Florida was one of the first large states to move from "may issue" to a more lenient "shall issue" law for issuing concealed carry permits, which is one reason there are many permit holders in the state, Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University, told USA TODAY in an email.

Under the "may issue" law, officials could assess whether or not someone has a good reason to need a permit, or considersomething in the applicant’s background – short of a clear disqualifying condition like a felony conviction – that makes them think the person should not carry concealed guns outside the home, Webster said.

Fact check: PBS airing Jan. 6 hearings, but some local affiliates keep regular programming

Under a ''shall issue'' law, the government issues a permit as long as the applicant doesn’t have a specific prohibiting condition, Webster said. These conditions include prior criminal convictions, restraining orders, age requirements or involuntary commitment for treatment for mental illness.

"They make it really easy to get a permit, whether you live in Florida or not, and they offer reciprocity to most of the other states," Webster said.

A person who openly carries a gun in Florida without a valid permit can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor that carries up to a $500 fine or a maximum of 60 days in jail, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. There are exemptions for certain groups, such as law enforcement, military and guards.

Our rating: Partly false

Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim that over four million people in Florida have concealed carry permits. Data shows this exaggerates the reality, as a little over 2.5 million people have valid concealed carry permits in Florida.

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Post exaggerates concealed carry permit holders in Florida