More “Loopholes”

The Tennessean ran a hit piece on concealed carry over the weekend:

But not touted, and often ignored, is a persistent group of Tennesseans with violent pasts who carry gun permits through loopholes, administrative mistakes and the realities of a court system where charges based on violent incidents can be reduced or eliminated in plea bargains.

The loophole?  You have to be convicted of a disqualifying offense.  It seems to me this article serves as an example of what’s wrong with the criminal justice system rather than the permit system.  In Pennsylvania, Sheriffs are given more leeway in denying someone a license because they are of a “character and reputation such that you would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.”  This guy probably would be denied a permit in PA.

However the police routinely abuse this clause to revoke permits, and I consider eliminating it to be a top priority.  Police routinely revoke permits because the user was carrying openly, a practice that’s completely legal in Pennsylvania.  Philadelphia routinely revokes permits for having your house broken into and having gun stolen.  Philadelphia has revoked permits for people legitimately defending themselves.

Gun control folks want these clauses to be in here, but in Pennsylvania we’ve shown that the authorities can’t be trusted to exercise the discretion responsibly.  That’s why most states leave the authorities with little or no discretion, and I think that’s the right way to do it.  For borderline cases, like what’s highlighted in this article, it’s not clear they wouldn’t carry without the permit anyway.

7 thoughts on “More “Loopholes””

  1. It’s the dreaded “not convicted” loophole!

    I’ve been aware of this since Bill Murry and Ivan Reitman used the Not Convicted Loophole to get into the Army in Stripes. Glad to see the media is catching up.

    The simplest solution would be to enter a felony conviction on every child’s permanent record at birth, with a suspended sentence. Then, later in life, if “everyone knows” that guy committed a crime, but it can’t be proven in a court of law, hey, at least he has a felony conviction on his record to keep him from buying a gun or getting a CCW.

    I know it sounds like it would be hard to justify a felony conviction for a baby, but we could do what Chicago does with guns: require registration and demand that the new baby register and be fingerprinted prior to arrival in the world. Then every baby is in violation and society is safe.

  2. Coming close to baby-felonies, many states have legislation that mandate carrying forward of some juvenile convictions to disqualify people from firearm ownership or permit-holding in adulthood. This can sound reasonable for serious crimes, until you understand that the juvenile justice system does not recognize the same rights to a defense as the adult justice system. The theory behind that is that the juvenile penalties are usually not as harsh, and the convictions do not carry over into adult life. But, when they can disbar someone from access to fundamental human rights, I’d say that is pretty serious.

    I have had several people tell me of being denied their firearms rights for juvenile convictions for things that amounted only to pranks, but their attorneys at the time had advised them that the easiest thing to do was plead guilty as a juvenile and “have it all behind them” after a year or two. It turned out it will never be behind them.

  3. Immediately after I saw the article, I posted it on Facebook with this comment:

    “The article is actually pretty even-handed, pointing out that the examples listed in the article are people charged with felonies who pled to a misdemeanor or whose permits weren’t revoked after local courts failed to report convictions, and not… indicative of permit holders as a group. However, the headline is obnoxious… why not “Court failures cause improper issuance of permits” or something similar?”

    I fully agree, it highlights the “catch and release” problem with criminals pleading to a misdemeanor for violent felonies.

    It was also the first story under the banner on yesterday’s paper (yes, I still subscribe, sometimes it brightens my day to have a printed collection of moronity to mock, and they run a fine one at Pravda on the Cumberland).

  4. Here we have the story of a man who is apparently trying to turn his life around! He has gone from being a thug criminal with convictions for violent misdemeanors (which might have been successfully prosecuted as felonies), to being a law abiding handgun permit holder in the state of Tennessee.

    Perhaps he has achieved the life experience necessary to realize that laws, when followed, allow one to avoid a great deal of punitive interaction with the state. Maybe he realized that his run of plea bargains was about to end in a felony conviction with serious time if he continued his illegal behavior.

    If not, being the poster boy for thugs with gun permits in the state of Tennessee certainly makes him a prosecutor’s dream case in the event of any future misbehavior.

  5. The “Loophole” is that people are allowed to carry guns at all. These people see any law that doesn’t give them their way as flawed.

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