Pennsylvania AG, Philly police commissioner criticize conceal-carry bill in Congress

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (center), Shira Goodman, CeaseFire PA executive director, (left) and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross (right) held a press conference at police headquarters Tuesday to express concern over concealed carry reciprocity. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (center), Shira Goodman, CeaseFire PA executive director, (left) and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross (right) held a press conference at police headquarters Tuesday to express concern over concealed carry reciprocity. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia authorities and anti-gun violence groups are concerned about a federal measure backed by the National Rifle Association that would expand the right to carry concealed weapons.

The bill would allow anyone with a permit from any state to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the United States.

Shira Goodman with the group Ceasefire PA said that would be harmful Pennsylvania and other states that have stricter standards.

“We think this is dangerous,” she said. “It undermines state and local law enforcement authority, and it undermines state rights.”

Proponents say it’s unfair for those who legally own guns to have to brush up on the particular laws in every state where they travel, as long as they go through the proper steps to earn approval to carry a concealed weapon in their home state.

But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro disagree with the NRA and attorneys general from other states who say the bill would strengthen the Second Amendment.

“If they were serious about states rights, they would be focused about upholding the laws of their respective states or commonwealths instead of engaging of a race to the bottom at the federal level,” Shapiro said Tuesday.

Shapiro said he is concerned about gun owners with permits from states with weaker standards than Pennsylvania or no standards at all carrying concealed weapons here.

Pennsylvania changed its own laws about reciprocity after it came to light that residents who had been denied conceal-carry permits locally were able to obtain them from the state of Florida.  At one time, 4,000 Pennsylvania residents had obtained Florida permits.  But in 2013 the “Florida loophole” was closed.

Complying with gun laws in neighboring states has been an issue in the Philadelphia region, especially in New Jersey.  The Garden State prohibits transporting guns in a car unless the weapons are locked, unloaded and in the trunk.

Gov. Chris Christie has commuted sentences for those arrested for violating this law, saying it was turning legal gun owners into criminals.

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