Figures released this month by the state of Florida show that concealed weapon permits are on the rise in the Florida Keys.

“The numbers of applications and permits are definitely up,” Monroe County Tax Collector Danise Henriquez told Keys Weekly on July 22.

In 2016, Monroe County had 8,120 concealed carry permits. That number has jumped to 10,485 in 2020, according to figures released this month by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers and issues those permits.

From July 2018 to June 2019, Monroe County received 806 applications for new concealed weapons permits and 682 applications for renewal.

The following year, from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, the office received 801 applications for new permits and 747 applications for renewal, state reports show. This year, 54 such permits were denied for a variety of reasons, including insufficient paperwork or a felony criminal charge.

Recent nationwide protests, along with the June 1 reopening of the Florida Keys to nonresidents, led hundreds of people from other counties to line up at the Monroe County Tax Collector’s office in Key Largo to apply for a new concealed carry permit or to renew their existing one, Henriquez said.

“I can’t say what event or events specifically prompted the increase, but I do know that as of June 1, when the Keys reopened, we started getting a monsoon in our offices. We had a line three and four hours long at our Key Largo office with people from other counties waiting, mainly for driver licenses and concealed weapon permits,” Henriquez told Keys Weekly on July 22.

“We started making appointments for concealed weapon applications and in the Key Largo office, appointments were booked through mid-November,” Henriquez said.

But then, given the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Keys, Henriquez announced last week that her offices will only serve Monroe County residents.

“I won’t jeopardize the health of our county residents or my staff by potentially having someone from another county bring the virus into our offices,” she said, adding that concealed weapon appointments were canceled for out-of-county residents.

The concealed weapon permits require the applicant to complete a certified gun ownership course first, Henriquez said.

“They have to bring a certificate of completion to our office,” she said. “We fingerprint them and take their picture. Then they fill out an application, which we send to Tallahassee for the required checks and the permit gets mailed to successful applicants in three to four weeks.”

Additional information on concealed weapon permits is available at the Florida Department of Agriculture website.

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX