More Florida citizens are arming themselves and using firearms to kill more than ever before, reports the Miami Herald. While the number of murders overall in the state has stayed relatively flat, the percentage of those committed with a firearm has risen, reflecting a significant increase in gun sales and concealed-weapon permits. “Everybody has a gun in this neighborhood,'' said a resident of a wealthy enclave. “It's sad, but once you've been threatened you don't take any chances.''
In 2000, there were 499 gun murders in the state. Gun murders have since climbed 38 percent — with 691 in 2011. Only partial numbers are available for 2012, but from January to June, there were 479 murders in Florida — 358 of them committed with a gun. Guns are now the weapons of choice in 75 percent of all homicides in Florida. That's up from 56 percent in 2000. Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Weiner, a gun owner and member of the National Rifle Association, said guns have been unregulated in Florida for so long that it's a daunting — if not impossible — task to now regulate them. “Yes it's true there are millions and millions of guns on the street. Honorable people buy them and register them,'' he said. “The problem is there are millions more that are not registered and you can buy them any day or night of the week on the streets.''