Florida Loophole: More Are ‘Packin’ Heat’ Than We’re Aware Of
Fark.com has a “Florida” tag for a reason. Among other things, it turns out that state’s Dept. of Agriculture is allowed to issue mail order carry permits for Pennsylvanians who’ve been denied the right locally. Some lawmakers are working on getting the law changed, but it’s not going so well.
Currently, carry permits may be obtained in Pennsylvania after a background check and approval by the county sheriff’s office (though in Philadelphia, it’s the police department.) According to a Daily News article, Philadelphia Police Lt. Lisa King, commander of the Gun Permit Unit, said this about what’s being called the “Florida loophole”:
Florida looks only at convictions, not arrest history or one’s character and reputation, as the Philadelphia police do.
Perhaps you’ll remember Jon Campisi’s May 26, 2010 cover story, Who’s Packin’ Heat in Philly? in which he details Pennsylvania’s carry permit law:
Pennsylvania has been a “shall-issue state,” meaning authorities must award carry licenses to applicants with clean records who meet certain criteria, since 1988. At the time, only five other states had the designation. But while licenses have been available to residents for over 20 years now some Philly residents say police often drag their feet on the applications, making the process more restrictive than allowed by law.
Well, this obviously helps those who believe police are dragging their feet, and it’s becoming an issue for Dan Onorato, who thinks it could be a winner in November (a Philly.com article cites a gun safety teacher claiming permits are often denied for those who have outstanding parking tickets and others who are behind on child-support). Onorato is at least pretending to be pissed and is blaming Tom Corbett (how’s the health care law suit going, by the way?) for allowing the loophole to exist. PhillyClout reports:
“Tom is actually in the position to deal with this issue right now,” said Onorato, the Democratic nominee for governor, who noted that 175 mayors from across the state have asked Corbett to act. “They have not heard from the Attorney General. The reason is he doesn’t want to deal with this issue.”
And D.A. Seth Williams has got his back, too.
Williams called the loophole a “disgusting affront” to Pennsylvania’s sovereignty, declaring that this state’s residents should have to follow their home state’s laws on concealed weapons.
You gotta figure this is a tough one, because as State Rep. Bryan Lentz of Delaware County used as ammunition to back up Onorato on the issue,
He said 5,000 such permits were issued in 2009 based on 5,500 applications. In 2008, 5,900 permits were issued based on 6,200 applications.
Philly.com doesn’t say where Lentz got his info, but we assume he was using round numbers to summarize what Campisi reported:
In Philly, there were approximately 5,890 LTCFs issued in 2008 and 5,043 last year, according to Lt. Lisa King of the Gun Permits Unit. There are currently about 23,500 active licenses in the city. LTCFs are good for five years.
So, really, if Philly police are granting that many licenses per year compared to how many of us are applying, you can only assume there’s reason for a denial and Florida’s continued secrecy on the issue isn’t exactly helping out their case.
The statistics regarding the Florida loophole, according to Philly.com, are pretty awful:
However, it’s unknown how many city residents have permits from Florida because Florida does not keep track of where the 70,228 nonresident permits it has issued have gone – though they make up nearly 10 percent of the total permits issued by the state.
Even Philadelphia police can’t get a list of the names or the number of city residents with Florida permits without subpoenaing the state, which they are working with the District Attorney’s Office to do, King said.
Each year, Philadelphia’s gun-permit unit sends numerous letters to Florida asking the state to revoke permits from Philadelphia residents. While King recalled one request being honored, they usually go nowhere, she said.
“These are just the . . . criminals we know of and when we ask Florida to revoke them, they won’t,” she said.
King said that it’s the Philadelphia Police Department’s ability to deny or revoke a permit on character and reputation that is key to keeping Philadelphia streets safe.
She said that the majority of Philadelphia citizens who have permits are law-abiding, but it’s a bad group and a bad loophole that tarnishes the reputation of upstanding permit holders.
Lentz is trying to close the loophole himself through legislation, though admitted to PhillyClout he doesn’t have the votes. Go figure.