Thousands of Floridians are looking to take personal safety into their own hands after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub last month, says the Orlando Sentinel. In May, the Florida Department of Agriculture distributed more than 20,000 applications to people interested in a concealed weapon permit or other firearm license. That number jumped to more than 36,000 in June. On average, about 180,000 new applications are turned in each year and fewer than 4,000 are denied. By the end of June, more than 1.5 million people were licensed to carry a concealed weapon in Florida.
Local gun safety instructors said they expect the interest to continue growing during the next few months, fitting a trend seen after most mass casualty incidents in the U.S. “People recognize, especially after this particular incident being so close to home, they realize they’re ultimately responsible for their own safety,” said John Ritz of East Orange Shooting Sports in Winter Park. “They can’t just rely on somebody else to be there.” Ritz said interest in the shop’s gun safety and concealed carry classes has about doubled since the shooting at Pulse, in which 49 people were killed and more than 50 others injured. The best explanation for the rush is fear, said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. He said the desire to arm will likely continue after every mass shooting that gets national media attention like Pulse or the Dallas police deaths. Some Americans run out to buy weapons for fear they’ll be taken away, Corzine said. The incidents also make people question their safety. “People start thinking, ‘Wow, maybe I need to start thinking about self-protection. Maybe I’ll start carrying a gun,'” he said.