A state senator plans to introduce legislation that could make it easier for Philadelphia gun owners to get a concealed-carry permit.
Republican Sen. Richard Alloway, whose district covers parts of Adams, Franklin, and York counties, will soon propose a measure allowing citizens to apply for a concealed-carry license in counties adjacent to their own.
Philadelphia residents currently may only get concealed-carry permits through the city’s Police Department.
Democratic Sen. Larry Farnese of Philadelphia’s First District said the proposed law would circumvent a measure designed to stop the epidemic of gun violence in the city.
“It’s going to allow people that were rejected in Philadelphia to go out and get a permit in a neighboring county, come back, and walk around within the streets,” he said.
Farnese added that concealed-carry licensing in the city should not be “meddled with by lawmakers in other parts of the state.”
State law governs licensing background checks
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania closed the so-called “Florida loophole” allowing permit applicants rejected in-state to receive a Florida permit instead.
Alloway supports that change, telling Cumberland County’s Public Opinion that he thinks applicants “should go through the process in our state”, not Florida.
Unlike standards across states, standards for concealed-carry background checks are the same throughout Pennsylvania thanks to the the state’s Uniform Firearms Act.
That means Philadelphia has the same permit background check criteria as other counties in the state.
But even if the same standard covers the entire state, background check procedure and access to local records can differ by county, said Lieutenant John Stanford of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Office of Public Affairs.
“This type of legislation would limit our efforts to maintain a level of safety for our citizens here and recreate that Florida Loophole,” Stanford said.
That’s why licensing of city residents should stay under local control, said Shira Goodman, executive director of anti-gun violence group CeaseFirePA.
“The reason that we have this whole process is to allow local authorities who may have more information about the person who wants to get that kind of permit,” said Goodman.
“And what this bill is doing is saying, ‘Hey, you can by-pass that, and you can go out to one of the surrounding counties where they may not know you.'”
Proposal would “ease burden” on counties
In a statement posted on his website, Sen. Alloway said the measure would cut the wait time for permits following increased applications across the state.
“We need to explore ways to ease this burden on counties so applicants are not left waiting for months on end for their application to be considered,” Alloway said in the statement Wednesday.
Since President Obama called for “meaningful action” to prevent future mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., this December, demand for concealed firearms carry permits has climbed in counties statewide.
For Stanford at the Philadelphia Police Department, the argument that getting a permit out of county saves applicants time seemed familiar.
“That’s the same argument that some folks have used when getting their permits in Florida, but then we find out: you have a record. You should not be carrying a firearm.”
Currently, concealed-carry permits from any county are valid throughout Pennsylvania, but a sheriff’s office or large city may only issues permits to its own residents.