Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, flanked by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and state Rep. Bryan Lentz of Delaware County, lashed out at state Attorney General Tom Corbett this morning for failing to close the "Florida loophole" that allows that state's Department of Agriculture to issue by mail permits to carry concealed weapons for Pennsylvanians who have been denied that privilege locally.
The three Democrats said Corbett, the Republican nominee in the Nov. 2 general election for governor, could as Attorney General close that loophole by citing difference between the regulations for permits in the two states. For Florida, applicants must pass a background check. To gain a permit in Pennsylvania, applicants must be approved by their county Sheriff's Office -- In Philadelphia, it's the Police Department -- which can also take into consideration "character and reputation."
"Tom is actually in the position to deal with this issue right now," said Onorato, the Democratic nominee for governor, who noted that 175 mayors from across the state have asked Corbett to act. "They have not heard from the Attorney General. The reason is he doesn't want to deal with this issue."
Williams called the loophole a "disgusting affront" to Pennsylvania's sovereignty, declaring that this state's residents should have to follow their home state's laws on concealed weapons. Lentz introduced legislation last month to close the loophole. He hopes the state House Judiciary Committee will consider it for a vote next week, though he conceded that he doesn't have the votes now to move the bill forward.
Lentz dished out some statistics to knock down complaints that people in Pennsylvania have a difficult time obtaining permits to carry concealed weapons. He said 5,000 such permits were issued in 2009 based on 5,500 applications. In 2008, 5,900 permits were issued based on 6,200 applications.