Thursday, September 2, 2010

You get the government you deserve

In the last year, oponents of gun rights in Philadelphia have been trying to make an issue of what they call "the Florida loophole". The short version is this: Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state. That means that if you meet the state's requirements for getting a concealed carry permit (essentially, you can pass a background check), you get your permit.

As Philly is one of those cities with a huge crime rate due to entrenched social problems that nobody wants to risk handling directly, they try to do what most big cities do about violence instead of something: put restrictions on gun ownership for law-abiding citizens. In this case, the Philadelphia police have long been reading the state's "character and reputation" clause as broadly as possible, using it as justification for denying permits to people who've ever failed to pay a parking ticket.

But there's recourse for the folks wrongly denied. Pennsylvania has reciprocity with Florida. Get yourself a Florida carry permit (which, incidentally, has much stricter requirements than PA's, including mandatory safety training and fingerprinting), and you can carry in the whole state, including Philadelphia. Naturally, the city cops are furious.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports on steps Philly police have taken to harass holders of Florida permits, including wrongful confiscation of guns, pressing charges until they can't be sustained any more, and handcuffing hospital patients to their beds.

There's not much new here. People who think controlling peaceful citizens is the answer to a problem tend to abuse the folks who subvert their control. Not a big shock. But I'm shocked at just how brazen these douchebags are:

Lt. Fran Healy, special adviser to the police commissioner, acknowledged that some city cops apparently are unfamiliar with some concealed-carry permits. But he said that it's better for cops to "err on the side of caution."

"Officers' safety comes first, and not infringing on people's rights comes second," Healy said.

Incorrect, asshole. Police are payed by the people to risk their own safety protecting the people's rights. If you think your safety trumps individual rights, you need to be reminded of the nature of your relationship with the people.

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