Lake County Sheriff’s Office Rangemaster Cpl. Kevin Howard practices Friday at the department’s gun range in Astatula. Having responsible gun owners carry concealed weapons is a win-win situation for the department. Photo: Daily Commercial.

More than 16,000 people in Lake County have permits to carry concealed weapons. Only 12 of Florida’s 67 counties have more people with concealed weapons permits.

Sgt. Russ Edwards with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office wishes the local number was higher.

“I wish there were 32,000 permits,” Edwards said Friday from the sheriff’s firearms safety range. From a law enforcement perspective, that means those people went through a class and the necessary paperwork and are more likely to be safe users of guns, he said.

For 2010, Lake County reported 16,433 concealed weapon permits through Aug. 31, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the permits. Sumter County had 2,102.

Each of the 12 counties that reported more concealed weapon permits than Lake is more populated. In fact, some counties with a higher population than Lake — for example, Marion, Seminole and Sarasota — have fewer concealed weapon permits, based on state figures.

To get a gun permit, you have to provide proof of residency, proof that you are at least 21, submit fingerprints, pass a computerized instant background check, attend a certified handgun/firearm safety class and pay a fee, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture Consumer services.

Edwards teaches two of those firearms safety classes required to get a concealed weapon permit.

He teaches a safety for civilians at the Eustis Gun Club. At the sheriff’s firearms training range in Astatula, he also teaches the class for retired police officers who want to get a gun permit.

Source: Brad Buck for Daily Commercial.

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