“We’ve noticed an increase in the number of women interested in getting concealed-weapons permits,” Forrest Buckwald, owner of Bucks Gun Rack in Daytona Beach said, citing a perception of increasing crime. N-J | Jay Stapleton
In their words
Brian Sherman, 26, owner of Hot Shots Range in Holly Hill
Started shooting recreationally about five years ago.
He enjoyed the sport so much, he decided to buy the indoor range and gun store on Nova Road. A year later, he got his concealed weapons permit. He now carries a gun to and from the store.
"It goes with you everywhere, like a cell phone," Sherman said. "It's part of everyday life."
Sarah Dye, 21, Orlando, bartender
Started target shooting a few years ago with friends. She has a .22-caliber rifle and handgun. She is thinking of getting her concealed weapons permit, because she believes her gun is an important tool for protection.
"I think safety is very important," she said.
DAYTONA BEACH -- An Edgewater man who was threatened with a baseball bat pulled his gun and fired.
A DeLand man who spied a burglar climbing in his window held the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived.
Both men had concealed-weapons permits. They are among thousands of local residents who in the past few years got permits and are legally carrying their guns for personal protection.
"In a perfect world, you wouldn't need guns," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said. "This is not a perfect world."
A study of concealed-weapons permits and updated census figures by The Daytona Beach News-Journal shows that Flagler County is second in Central Florida in per-capita gun permits. One in 16 people 21 and older have a concealed-weapons permit. Nearby Lake County is No. 1, with one in 14. In Volusia County, the figure is about 1 in 18, with 21,366 permits to carry handguns issued as of May 31.
Here and throughout Florida, handgun-carry permits issued have spiked nearly 90 percent since 2005.
"We've noticed an increase in the number of women interested in getting concealed-weapons permits," Forrest Buckwald, owner of Buck's Gun Rack in Daytona Beach said, citing a perception of more violent crime in a down economy. "If you're going to carry a gun, we recommend you carry it all the time."
Sheriff Johnson is a supporter of concealed-weapons permits, and holds one, even though as a law-enforcement officer he doesn't need to.
With proper training, armed citizens are a deterrent to crime, he said. "The concealed-weapons permit includes safety training."
Buckwald and other gun experts say they noticed a sharp spike in requests for applications for permits in the days leading up to -- and after -- the election of President Barack Obama.
"The lines were around the building," Buckwald said.
The perception before and immediately after Obama's election was that the administration would tighten gun laws, which has not been the case. Last week, the Supreme Court held that Americans have a right to own a gun for self defense wherever they live.
The decision was seen as a victory for right to carry advocates, because it says local regulations cannot interfere with federal rights.
Experts say there are many factors behind the numbers.
Brian Sherman, 26, who owns Hot Shot Indoor Range and gun store in Holly Hill, said age is one of them. People older than 40 are more likely to own a gun, he said.
The permit numbers likely are much lower than the number of guns people own.
In Florida, no registration or permit is required to keep a gun in the home. Handguns are permitted in cars, as long as they are "securely encased" in a box, glove compartment or center console.
Crime concerns, exacerbated by the weak national economy, have prompted people to walk into Brothers Guns and Ammo in South Daytona, store owner Glenn Motrellito said. Gun stores in the Daytona Beach area like his serve as a place people visit to learn about personal protection, he said.
At Buck's Gun Rack, in business since 1954, Buckwald hands out thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits each year. His business also refers people to required certified safety courses.
"The Obama election has definitely skyrocketed business," said Mike Koenig, who teaches a handgun class for up to 24 people. "We get everyone, from the little old lady who never held a gun to the high-ranking military official."
Koenig said Florida's relatively "lenient" permitting process also increases the numbers of people carrying weapons outside the home. In New York, people must have an interview with police officials before getting a permit. Additional background checks are required in Massachusetts.
"It's pretty easy," he said of Florida. "If you pass the background check, and also have a knowledge of Florida gun laws and some firearms training, you're pretty much going to get your license."
While the numbers are encouraging to those who make their living selling bullets and weapons, gun store owners say they are not looking to put handguns into the hands of people who might pose a danger to others.
Anytime someone new walks into Hot Shots, the employees take cues to decide whether the person is right for the purchase of a firearm.
If someone shows a lack of safety knowledge, or says, "I need a gun to get someone," owner Sherman said there's no sale. Owners of other gun stores shared similar sentiments.
Johnson steadfastly believes that an armed society is a safer society. "Safety is very important," he said, referring to the need for training.
Over the past three months, two local men put their concealed-weapons permits to use.
On April 12, Daven Woulard pulled up to his DeLand home to find legs sticking out a back window.
Woulard, 26, drew his revolver, for which he has a concealed-weapons permit, and ordered the 16-year-old intruder from the window.
When Jarrett Holloman tried to run, Woulard fired a bullet into the ground. The gesture encouraged Holloman to wait with Woulard until deputies arrived.
Two months later, Harris Smith, 46, of Edgewater was threatened with a baseball bat while walking with a woman on Sandpiper Court.
The assailant, Timothy Allen Campbell, 36, was the woman's ex-boyfriend. According to police, Campbell had been stalking the woman and sending her threatening text messages.
When Campbell raised the bat at Smith he fired a single shot with his .380-caliber pistol. Smith had a permit to carry. Campbell broke the law by swinging the bat.
In addition to recovering from a gunshot wound to the upper chest, Campbell was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated stalking.
At the indoor shooting range, owner Sherman put his perspective on concealed-weapons permits this way: "An armed society is a polite society," he said.