Kane acts to close 'Florida loophole' for concealed weapons

Kathleen Kane , accompanied by officials including Mayor Nutter (right) and Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (left), receives applause.
Kathleen Kane , accompanied by officials including Mayor Nutter (right) and Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey (left), receives applause. (MATT ROURKE / Associated Press)
Posted: February 09, 2013

The days when a Pennsylvania resident can legally carry a concealed firearm using a Florida permit appear to be coming to an end.

"The Florida loophole is officially closed in the state of Pennsylvania," Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Friday as she stood beside Mayor Nutter and other city leaders in North Philadelphia.

Her words drew cheers from the crowd but were received less warmly among Republicans in Harrisburg.

Since September 2001, Pennsylvania and Florida have had a reciprocity agreement that required Pennsylvania to recognize all of Florida's concealed-carry permits. About 4,000 Pennsylvanians have obtained a Florida permit, including some who were rejected for a permit in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Police Department evaluates the "character and reputation" of anyone seeking a concealed-carry permit (CCP). Some residents who have never been convicted of a crime have been denied a CCP under Philadelphia's process.

"It's not uncommon at all that they go online and get a permit from Florida," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said.

Ramsey, who stood with the mayor and Kane at the Cecil B. Moore Recreational Facility at 22d and Sergeant Streets, called Kane's move a "bold step" that puts Pennsylvania "in the right direction" to curb gun violence.

"There's not a day that goes by that someone is not shot in Philadelphia," Ramsey said. "It's got to stop."

Kane, a Democrat elected in November, ran on a platform that advocated modifying the reciprocity agreement. She modified it so that Pennsylvania will honor a Florida CCP only if the permit-holder is a Floridian with proof of residence. The modified agreement will take effect June 8.

"Closing this loophole shows that it is possible to swiftly implement commonsense gun-safety measures that protect our streets," Kane said.

Republican Gov. Corbett, who was attorney general before running for governor, did not endorse Kane's move.

"Historically, our position has been that the governor doesn't consider revising the reciprocity agreement with Florida to be necessary," said Janet Kelley, his spokeswoman. "He believes Florida's rules for obtaining a concealed-carry license are as stringent as Pennsylvania's - and in some cases impose even higher hurdles, requiring fingerprinting, proficiency tests, and background checks, covering both criminal offenses and mental health. Any clarification of the reciprocal relationship should go through the legislative process."

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), a leading gun-rights proponent, said Kane "really overstepped the bounds of her authority" by adding exceptions into the reciprocity agreement.

"She's really done nothing to provide better protection or safety," he said, adding that Kane "should focus on lawbreakers and criminals."

Kim Stolfer, a former Marine from the Pittsburgh area who leads Firearms Owners Against Crime, said, "The Florida loophole didn't exist." He said the problem is that Philadelphia denies permits to many law-abiding applicants who should be granted licenses to carry concealed weapons.

Contact Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman at sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sabdurr.

Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden contributed to this article.

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