Syracuse Post-Standard Editorial: Packing Heat: Bill would erase state limits on concealed guns
September 20, 2011
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who police said shot and killed six people and severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last January in Tucson, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and ruled incompetent to stand trial. In Arizona, he did not need a permit to conceal the Glock 19 pistol and 33-round magazine he allegedly used.
Christopher Speight, 39, also found incompetent to stand trial, killed his sister, her husband, 15-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son and four other people in a shooting spree. He got his first concealed-carry permit in Virginia in 1999, and renewed it in 2009, a year before the shootings.
Marquis Hill, 28, allegedly shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old he said was breaking into his car in Philadelphia a year ago. His application to carry a concealed weapon was revoked in 2005, when he faced an attempted murder charge. Though the charge went away, a judge rebuffed his attempt to get his permit back — reportedly provoking an angry response that earned him a disorderly conduct conviction. Hill went online and got a concealed-carry permit from Florida, which Pennsylvania was obliged to honor because of a reciprocity agreement. “If we in Philadelphia deny someone the privilege to carry a handgun based on something in their background,” a Philadelphia police official complained, “they should not then be able to apply online and get a gun permit.” He might have added that Florida’s lax system should not trump Pennsylvania’s.
Most state concealed-carry laws are not as strict as New York’s. Here, successful applicants must be at least 21, state residents of “good moral character” without criminal records. State authorities have discretion to deny permits, and applicants must present a compelling reason to carry a concealed handgun.
A new federal legislative proposal would effectively erase those criteria and replace them with the loosest concealed-carry rules in the nation. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, co-sponsored by Reps. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., and Heath Schuler, D-N.C., would force each state to accept the concealed-carry laws of all other states.
This proposal would make it virtually impossible to enforce New York’s law, since police would have to be familiar with the concealed-carry rules of every state. They would place themselves at greater risk in traffic stops where more drivers could carry concealed weapons. Illegal gun runners could continue to travel to states with weak gun laws, load up, then display their out-of-state permits if stopped on their return.
Police chiefs across the country oppose this alarming proposal, joined by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose members include Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and her counterparts in Binghamton, Buffalo, Elbridge, Fabius, Fayetteville, Homer, Manlius, Mexico, Minoa, Phoenix, Sherrill and Tully.
In 2009, a similar legislative initiative by Sen. John Thune, R-S. D., was defeated. Now it’s back in the House, and richly deserves the same fate as its predecessor.
Read the full article: