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PolitiFact Florida: Rick Scott says Florida is No. 1 in concealed permits

After yucking it up last week on a Gulf of Mexico fishing trip, Govs. Rick Perry and Rick Scott sat for an interview with Fox News Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto.

A subject in the conversation: guns.

"We believe in an individual law-abiding citizen's right to bear arms," Scott said. "We have to continue to have this right. We are not going to be taking weapons away from law-abiding citizens of Florida."

Scott then stated an amazing, if true, statistic about gun ownership in the state.

"I mean, I think we have more concealed weapons permits than any other state because Floridians care about their right to bear arms."

With 19 million residents, Florida is the fourth-most populous state in the country so it's no surprise it would be high on a concealed permit list. But is it No. 1 ahead of Perry's Texas, which has 6 million more residents, and California, which is nearly double the size?

Turns out, yes. Scott is correct.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, recently studied the number of active concealed weapons permits by state. Its report is from July and includes concealed weapons permit data as of Dec. 31, 2011, in most cases.

The top 10 of valid permits by state breaks down like this:

1. Florida: 887,000;

2. Pennsylvania: 786,000;

3. Georgia: 600,000;

4. Texas: 519,000;

5. Indiana: 406,000;

6. Washington: 351,000;

7. Utah: 347,000;

8. Tennessee: 341,000;

9. Michigan: 296,000;

10. Virginia: 279,000.

There are two caveats to this list. First, several states, including Florida, allow out-of-state residents to acquire concealed weapons permits. So people living outside of Florida may have a Florida permit. Records don't distinguish by location.

Second, it's worth noting that many states have reciprocity agreements regarding concealed weapons permits, meaning that a Texas license is valid in Florida and vice versa.

We don't think either is enough to question the validity of Scott's remark, however.

Three large states are missing from the Top 10 list. Illinois does not issue concealed weapons permits. California and New York are considered "may issue" states, which gives those states much more discretion over who gets a permit. That in turn makes it harder to get one.

As a result, California has just 35,000 active permits, representing .1 percent of the adult active population, according to the analysis. Florida, a "shall issue" state, had a concealed weapons permit rate of 6.2 percent of its active adult population. Georgia ranks first at 11 percent.

Our ruling

Scott said Florida has "more concealed weapons permits than any other state." A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study backs Scott up. The state has about 887,000 valid concealed weapons permits, about 100,000 more than the next closest state, Pennsylvania.

We rate this statement True.

PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election. See video fact-checks at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

The statement

Florida has "more concealed weapons permits than any other state."

Gov. Rick Scott, in a Fox News interview

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: True
A recent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office backs Scott up. The state has about 887,000 valid concealed weapons permits, about 100,000 more than the next closest state, Pennsylvania. We rate this statement True.

PolitiFact Florida: Rick Scott says Florida is No. 1 in concealed permits 08/19/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 1:57pm]

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