The “Florida Loophole”

The Philadelphia Daily News has really outdone themselves this time. We’ve seen the abuse of the term “loophole” to describe perfectly lawful activity the anti-gun groups and anti-gun media want to portray as sneaky, and something that obviously ought to be illegal, but this article really takes the cake.

“They could be disapproved here and they could apply in Florida and we are not notified,” said Philadelphia Police Lt. Lisa King, commander of the Gun Permit Unit. “So if we are not giving them a permit to carry, how is Florida allowed to override our decision?”

District Attorney Seth Williams said that the loophole defeats local efforts to keep streets safe.

“We should not allow Florida to pierce the veil of sovereignty of Pennsylvania,” he said. “This is something I’m going to direct my legislation unit to look into. This is a loophole I think it would be best to close.”

It’s not doing anything about Pennsylvania sovereignty. Pennsylvania has a law that recognizes licenses to carry from other states, and that law makes no distinction between residents and non-residents. If you possess a license from that state, you’re good. What the Inquirer also does not mention is that the requirements for a Florida license are more stringent than Pennsylvania’s, a reason that it’s more widely recognized by other states.

Locally, though, it’s become known as the “Florida loophole” because that’s where most of the out-of-state permits are coming from, according to police and prosecutors.

Locally I’ve never heard that term before. You mean locally around the newsroom? Around CeaseFire PA headquarters?

But CeaseFire PA executive director Joe Grace called the loophole “outrageous” and said that the issue is one his group will push in the upcoming governor’s race, in which Attorney General Tom Corbett is a candidate.

Grace said that the reciprocity law is not unusual, but blamed the loophole on Corbett’s translation of the law.

There’s no mistranslation. Corbett has an affirmative duty under Pennsylvania law to seek out reciprocity with states that are willing. Grace may want to smear Corbett in an election year, but Corbett is only exercising his duty under the law with these agreements. The law makes no provision to denying licensing to non-residents.

“People engaged in criminal activity are smart enough that once they are denied here, they are aware of this law and apply in Florida,” he said. “That’s thwarting the ability of Philadelphia police or any department to police Pennsylvania law.”

If gang members in Philadelphia are paying 123 dollars to the Florida Department of Agriculture, going through the training requirements, getting fingerprinted, and submitting to an FBI background check, I’ll eat my hat. They can point to one guy who ended up charged with a crime. One guy.

Grace cited an example of a Philadelphia man who obtained a Florida license to carry. He was subsequently pulled over in a traffic stop, and not only did he have two handguns on him, but he also had a half-pound of marijuana, numerous other drugs and several thousand dollars in cash.

When the case went to court, prosecutors could not charge the man with any gun violations, Grace said, because of his Florida permit.

Funny thing is, I was aware of this case, and was very, very curious as to its outcome, because there had been no precedent in the courts as to whether a Florida license would actually be recognized in the case where a person was not in possession of a PA LTC but was a resident of PA. The law said it should be, but that doesn’t mean a judge will see the law the same way.

“They mention that they’ve been denied a permit in Philadelphia for everything from parking tickets to child-support payments,” he said. “You may not have a criminal record but you owe some tickets or child support and they deny you when the rest of the state doesn’t.

“That’s not to say I’m for the deadbeat dad, but if you’re behind in your bills are you not allowed to protect yourself?”

Christie Caywood, a member of the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association, who spoke on the organization’s behalf, said that Philadelphia’s practice of revoking licenses of victims whose guns have been stolen, and the department’s high permit-revocation rate – 505 last year – send residents to other states.

“It is not surprising that some gun owners may opt for more uniform standards of another state license over the discriminatory abuses of the Philadelphia Police Department,” she said.

I don’t know who this Christie Caywood person is, but she’s a great spokeswoman for PAFOA. It’s the discriminatory abuses in Philadelphia that drive people to get Florida Licenses. I’m very happy that the city wants to push this issue, because we should have this conversation.

27 thoughts on “The “Florida Loophole””

  1. “Loophole” = “People Doing Legal $#!t I Don’t Like”.

    Later on, I will exploit the Carbon Footprint Loophole to take my Mass Transit Loophole to the Starving The Poor People Loophole and get some Unhealthy Food Loophole for dinner.

  2. Next they’ll be complaining about the “Utah” loophole that allows me to carry in your state, since it’s actually easier to get than an FL non-res.

  3. Yeah, that’s some loophole you got there, chief. Personally, the reason I have a Pennsylvania non-resident permit instead of Florida is that going through PA cost me about a fifth as much, had no training requirement or fingerprinting involved, and only took about two weeks.

  4. What Mr. Williams really meant was: “We shouldn’t allow Pennsylvania to pierce the veil of sovereignty in Philadelphia.”, by entering into agreements wiyh other states (which is of course within the sovereign authority of the states in agreement) which Philadelphia does not approve.

    I’m a Philadelphia resident, and I got myself a Florida permit because Philadelphia always takes a lot longer than the legally mandated limit of 45 days to renew permits. I want to be sure that there will be no lapse the next time my permit expires while waiting for renewal.

    As for the guy who got caught with marajuana while n posession of firearms – I see no reason that his Florida permit should have prevented prosecution for posession of firearms. I was under the impression that a permit offers no defense for posession of firearms in the commision of a crime. Am I wrong about this?

  5. I don’t know about the PA concealed carry law, but in Florida, your license is immediately invalidated when used in furtherance of a crime. So if he had been pulled over in FL with a concealed gun and some marijuana, he would have been prosecuted for the drugs and carrying a concealed weapon, regardless of his permit.

  6. The thing that really burns me is, how many criminal records have I posted where the guy was caught without any license, with a gun, multiple times, along with drug offenses, and just let go and never prosecuted? Happens all the time in the City of Brotherly Love. But they bitch about this? Fuck them.

  7. I would pen a rebuttal in the op/ed section, but I’m afraid that the PPPD would retaliate by giving me a hard time when I go for renewal. I wonder if a pseudonym would get past the screening process at the Daily News.

  8. Sebastian – I suspect much of that is the fault of the Philly police dept., from top to bottom, which is why it’s mostly a local problem and not rampant throughout the rest of PA.

    We have exactly the same problem here in Wilmington with the WPD. The WPD is aware of the problems, but really just don’t care. It’s an attitude problem and it’s pervasive.

  9. My understanding is that it’s not the Philly PD that’s the problem. They arrest a lot of people for carrying guns illegally in Philadelphia. The problem is that the prosecutors office almost never prosecutes gun cases because they either plea away the gun offenses, or because judges in Philadelphia are notorious for coddling street criminals.

    The sad thing is, if you’re generally law abiding, you’re probably more likely to get prosecuted, because you have nothing to bargain with.

  10. But they bitch about this? Fuck them.

    This. From what I can tell, the PA permit is easier to get than a FL permit is, and our CCW department is swamped.

    Wonder if Charles Bronson has heard about this yet?

  11. Still trying to decide between the FL or PA non-resident permits. I have no earthly use for either of them, of course; sad to say. (Well, unless VA has reciprocity with either – but I go to VA about twice a year – not enough to bother carrying)

  12. I knew about the open-carry in VA. I just think that given the few times I go there and that I *don’t* carry notmally; I’m not sure I ought to do so in VA.

  13. I dunno, it does sound kinda loophole-y to me. Did the PA Legisislature actually intend to allow PA residents to avail themselves of reciprocity, or did they simply not consider the resident vs. non-resident angle? The latter is a classic example of a loophole; the former, doing legal $#!t I (well, not really I, but the proverbial “I”) don’t like.

  14. I would argue if they didn’t put the language in there to limit reciprocity to people who were not residents of Pennsylvania, that means they didn’t intend that to be the case. Other states have certainly done that.

  15. That argument proves too much. Are you saying no legislature ever screws up and enacts a law that is either more or less restrictive than intended? I think it’s elementary that what one does and what one intended to do are not necessarily the same thing.

  16. I’ll go a step further and question the whole concept of “legislative intent” in a case like this. Who’s intent is that? The parties that drafted and supported the bill and passed it? Who might have no doubt realized this “loophole” and hoped no one noticed? The opposition? Who consider the whole bill a “loophole” in the “no one can carry a concealed gun” ideal. I don’t think a legislature is a coherent enough body for the purposes of its intent to be divined. All we have to go on is what they wrote, and the reciprocity law contains no provision for restricting agreements to non-Pennsylvania residents.

    Ultimately I will judge the legislative intent by whether the legislature goes to bar residents from using out of state licenses to carry in Pennsylvania, which I don’t believe will happen.

  17. If an attempt to pull in-state reciprocity was made; this PA neighbbor sees it as likely that the discretionary revocation power will be pulled as well. No?

  18. I think Ian may be on to something. Allowing reciprocity for residents as well as non-residents was probably a loophole (I’d change my mind if presented with evidence that someone in the legislature proposed an amendment to address this issue but got voted down), but it’s a loophole Philly wouldn’t much care about if they weren’t busy exploiting a different loophole that gives them more discretionary power than the law’s proponent’s intended.

  19. We have a guy on several of the boards here in NC that had a conviction in VA for discharging his firearm while he was off duty as a cop. NC denied his CCH permit but VA gave him a non-resident permit.

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