Onorato Gets In A Dig (And Then Some) Over Florida Loophole

Last week we wondered if Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato had “Teh Kuh-Jones” it took to blow open the “Florida loophole” issue. Yesterday, he took a swing.

Hanging in Philly with soon-to-be-down-under Seth Williams, he spoke about the September 12 homicide about which we blogged where the alleged shooter held a Florida carry permit after Philadelphia police had revoked his Pennsylvania permit based on a prior violent arrest.

“This is a real problem in Pennsylvania,” said Onorato, who was again joined in his news conference by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “Tom Corbett is running for governor.  If he thinks this was just a 30-second sound-bite in June than he has another think (sic) coming.”

Corbett’s campaign, which in June derided the issue as a “solution in search of a problem,” today accused Onorato of not understanding state gun laws while exploiting a homicide to score political points.  Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said if the Attorney General ended a gun permit reciprocity agreement with Florida that state laws here would still require Pennsylvania to recognize a gun permit issued by a state with equal or more stringent requirements as Pennsylvania.

Williams added, via WHYY:

“A young life was lost because a man, who could not get a license as a result of his contact with police, got a license on line or however you get it with the Florida Bureau of Agriculture and shot a young man,” Williams says.

While we love a political grudge match and would like it to last forever and ever (and ever), CeaseFirePA may provide that extra boost to send Onorato home. They put out a press release yesterday in leiu of the issue, titled, “It’s Time To Act, Mr. Corbett.” And they lay out the case against Corbett’s reasoning, nice and icy.

Emphasis is so, so much ours.

The Corbett campaign rationalized that the attorney general cannot act to end or amend PA’s firearms reciprocity agreement with Florida because even if he did, Pennsylvania would still have to honor any out-of-state concealed carry permit issued by a state with regulations “equal to or stricter” than Pennsylvania’s regulations.

That’s flawed reasoning, because it implies Florida’s regulations and law governing concealed carry permits are equal to or stricter than Pennsylvania’s regulations. They are not.

In fact, Florida’s regulations concerning concealed carry permits are not stricter than Pennsylvania’s, and in several key areas are significantly weaker. Here are some examples:

•    The officials in charge of investigating the background of an applicant for a concealed carry license in Pennsylvania are county sheriffs in every county except Philadelphia, and the chief of police in Philadelphia.

•    In Florida, the agency with the responsibility for reviewing concealed carry permits is the Florida Department of Agriculture.

•    Pennsylvania law authorizes the county sheriff or the Philadelphia police chief to investigate the applicant’s background and deny the concealed carry permit if the applicant is deemed “likely to endanger public safety,” according to Pennsylvania law.

•    Florida law grants no discretionary authority to the Florida Agriculture Department, and in fact states that FLA law must be “liberally construed” in favor of “the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense.”

They also ask the question on all our minds: If Florida laws were “equal or reciprocal” between Pennsylvania and Florida then, um, why does the Florida loophole even exist?

Keep it comin’ people!

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