Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lentz and Onorato on Florida Loophole

from the inbox:

Gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato and State Rep. Bryan Lentz today refuted Corbett campaign claims that a loophole in Pennsylvania’s gun laws is not connected with serious crime. Onorato and Lentz cited several examples of violent crimes committed by residents of Pennsylvania holding Florida gun permits as a result of Corbett’s policies.

“I support gun owners’ rights, and closing the ‘Corbett Loophole’ is a common-sense safeguard to protect our communities,” Onorato said.

As Attorney General, Tom Corbett has allowed Pennsylvania residents to ignore state law and receive a permit to carry concealed weapons by applying to the Florida Department of Agriculture. Under the “Corbett Loophole,” even when Pennsylvania law enforcement officials deny or revoke a permit because of a history of arrests, domestic violence or substance abuse, the person can carry a concealed weapon by asking Florida for permission.

Corbett, who took office as Attorney General in 2005, could have closed the loophole at any time and protected Pennsylvanians with 30 days notice simply by cancelling the agreement with Florida.

The Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Western Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement leaders have called for the loophole to be closed, joining at least 175 Republican and Democratic mayors who wrote to the Attorney General earlier this year requesting action and had their letter ignored.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that, "Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said Onorato and his allies can't point to a single incident of serious crime linked to a permit from Florida." (6/19/10)

“Tom is wrong on the facts, and his policy is wrong for Pennsylvania,” Onorato said.

According to the independent organization CeaseFire PA, Pennsylvanians with Florida permits include:

· A man whose Pennsylvania permit was revoked in 2005 when he was arrested for domestic assault after punching a woman in the face and kicking her in the head;

· A man with a history of prior arrests for violent crime who was stopped by police when his car fit the description of a vehicle used in a shooting – the man had been rejected for a Pennsylvania permit and was carrying a Florida permit; and

· A man who police tried to serve with a warrant for homicide, who had a history of drug and murder arrests and had been rejected for a Pennsylvania permit.

“As a former prosecutor, I am disgusted that Tom Corbett would allow dangerous criminals to skirt Pennsylvania law and carry concealed weapons in our Commonwealth,” Rep. Lentz said. “Since the Attorney General has failed to act, I introduced legislation to close this dangerous loophole and I am pleased to stand with Dan Onorato and call on the Legislature to pass this important public safety legislation.”

Pennsylvania law requires residents to apply to their County Sheriff – or, in Philadelphia, the Police Department – for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Law enforcement officials are allowed to consider the applicant’s character – such as whether the person has prior violent arrests or was the subject of Protection From Abuse restraining orders – before granting the permit.

Bowing to the fringe of his party, Republican gubernatorial nominee Corbett has interpreted Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreement with Florida to allow Pennsylvania residents to instead carry a concealed firearm here after receiving a permit from Florida – which does not give law enforcement a role or even consider whether a Pennsylvania application has previously been rejected or revoked.

Even Florida does not allow its own residents to exploit the same loophole, stating on its website that “non-resident permits cannot be honored under Florida’s reciprocity provision.”

“The ‘Corbett Loophole’ is nothing but an end-run around the law,” Onorato said. “Tom is closing his eyes and allowing dangerous criminals to carry hidden guns, and that does an injustice to every law-abiding gun owner in the Commonwealth.”

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