Fish in a Barrel: Fisking the Philly Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer has their knickers in a serious twist over H.R. 822, the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011,” stating, “The threat of gun violence to Philadelphia-area residents from the so-called Florida loophole could go national – unless U.S. senators such as Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, and many others, do the right thing.” Florida loophole? What is this Florida loophole to which they are referring and how does it increase the threat of gun violence?

As is so often the case, when the antis start throwing around the ‘loophole’ term, it doesn’t mean evading the law but rather following it. The problem (for the Inquirer anyway) is that it’s a law they don’t like, hence their attempt to demonize it. The “Florida loophole” simply refers to the fact that under PA law, FL permit-holders enjoy reciprocity with PA.

The shrieking predictions of bloody mayhem come from the fact that someone who has been denied a PA permit, or has had theirs revoked, can apply for and receive a non-resident FL permit. All they have to do is pay $123 (or about a hundred bucks more than in PA), provide proof of training (not required in PA), submit their fingerprints (also not required in PA) and undergo an FBI background check. Quelle horreur! We must have bodies stacking up like cord wood as violent criminals with FL permits wreak havoc on the streets of PA.

Except we don’t. And we won’t. As happens in state after state, whenever the subject of expanding citizens’ carry rights comes up, the antis immediately start issuing releases and holding press conferences explaining how this particular added freedom will lead to “blood running in the streets!” and “fender-bender massacres!” and “shootouts over parking spots!”. The compliant media will, as night follows day, happily regurgitate these falling-sky predictions while ignoring what the facts have shown time and again: that no, the sky really isn’t falling, people won’t be mowed down in batch lots and things are going to be okay. Really.

Truth be told, however, the ink-stained wretches at the Inquirer do have a single (and singular) incident on which to hang their anti-gun tinfoil hats: a Philly man recently pulled over by the police who was discovered to be carrying two handguns, a half-pound of pot, several thousand dollars of cash and a Florida permit to carry. (Personally, if I was holding several thousand dollars in cash and $3K-plus worth of pot, I’d be carrying at least two pistols, permit or not).

But let’s look at this incident for a second. Where’s the violence? I mean the Inquirer is claiming that there is the threat of violence if this “loophole” goes national, so where’s the, you know, violence?

Again, for all practical purposes there isn’t any. And there won’t be. As Dr. John Lott points out on Newsmax.com:

Since Jan. 1, 2008, only four permit holders have had their permits revoked for a firearms violation (‘utilized’ is very broad here, including such things as accidentally carrying a gun into a gun-free zone).

That comes to an annual revocation rate of about 0.0002 percent. That is two ten-thousandths of 1 percent. How much smaller could that revocation rate be?

 

In my own state of Minnesota in 2010, out of the 88-plus thousand active permits to carry, the number revoked for some sort of criminal use of a gun: zero. The number revoked for some sort of criminal conduct not involving a gun zero. The number revoked for any sort of criminal conduct: ZERO!

So now that we’ve blasted the Inquirer’s opening paragraph to smithereens, let’s look at the second paragraph:

Under a bill just rammed through the U.S. House to a tune called by the National Rifle Association, every state that permits residents to carry concealed handguns would have to honor permits held by gun owners from other states.

Again with the pejoratives! First we had ‘loophole’ and now we have ‘rammed’. So what does the Inquirer mean by the bill getting rammed through? Well, it means that the bill was introduced in February of this year, debated in the House Judiciary Committee, voted out of the committee on November 11th, debated on the House floor for over 4 hours on November 16th and passed in a bi-partisan vote (with over 20% of Democrats voting for it). Hmmm, seems like “rammed through” is sort of like “loophole” in the sense that everything was done perfectly legally. Except the Inquirer didn’t like the result.

On to paragraph three:

That would scrap the long-established notion that states should have the right to shape their own approach as to who gets to carry a legal weapon. In Pennsylvania, for instance, police have the right to use discretion in denying a gun permit if, as in Philadelphia, they question an applicant’s character.

I have already addressed elsewhere the spurious “States’ Rights vs. Civil Rights” argument but will recap briefly; this argument didn’t work when the South was trying to retain their Jim Crow laws and it shouldn’t be given any more credence now. So now we reach the crux of the issue over issuing permits: Pennsylvania is, at least nominally, a shall-issue state. But they have the fairly standard “[a]n individual whose character and reputation is such that the individual would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” exemption for issuing a permit.

The problem arises in Philadelphia where the Chief of Police chooses to adopt a broad interpretation of the kind of character flaws that indicate someone might “act in a manner dangerous to public safety.” As far as he’s concerned, if you have some parking tickets, or have ever been behind on your child support payments, that indicates you’re a danger to public safety. Now I am no fan of “deadbeat” fathers. But even if someone is the quintessential deadbeat dad, how does that make him “dangerous to public safety”?

More from the Inquirer:

The NRA and its acolytes in Congress argue that this measure simply brings a degree of uniformity to concealed-carry permits in much the same way as one state honors another’s drivers’ licenses.

But the stakes are much higher, since making the right determination about who should – and should not – carry a gun is a potential matter of life and death to a degree unmatched by rules about who gets to slide behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Okay, according to the federal Department of Transportation, in 2006 there were about 203 million licensed drivers in the United States. The CDC’s WISQARS site (excellent resource, BTW) tells us there were 45,509 motor vehicle deaths that year. This works out to a rate of about 22.4 MV deaths per 100,000 drivers.

Now, according to the grossly inflated numbers from the Violence Policy Center’s report, Concealed Carry Killers, between May 2007 and today we averaged 85.555 (call it 86) deaths per year supposedly from permit holders. According to MSNBC, in January of 2010 there were about 6 million permit holders in the U.S., so we’ll take that as an average over the VPC’s time period (yes Virginia, this is a rough calculation), which gives us a rate of 1.433 “concealed carry deaths” per 100,000.

So let me see if I have this straight: With a MV kill rate fifteen times the (highly inflated) Concealed Carry kill rate, the Inquirer wants us to believe that driver licensing is less a “matter of life and death” than who carries a concealed weapon? Seriously?

At this point, the Inquirer really screws up when they tell us:

As it happens, Philadelphia already is experiencing the problems that the effective nationalization of handgun-carrying permits would unleash. Because Pennsylvania has a reciprocity agreement with Florida on gun permits, Keystone State residents who have been turned down for gun permits locally are free to obtain them from Florida.

An estimated 900 city residents are now armed in Philadelphia with such mail-order permits from the Sunshine State, and some clearly turned to Florida after being denied permits here. How much worse would the situation be if the Florida loophole were expanded to include every state that applied different standards to gun permitting?

So here the Inquirer’s actually admitting that the city has had experience with “the situation,” but they are unable to point to more than one single, solitary problem.

So how much worse will “the situation” get if H.R. 822 passes the Senate and is signed into law? None, zero, zip, nada. Guys, the sky isn’t falling. It’s going to be okay. Really.

comments

  1. avatar Sutton says:

    It’s funny that some people think this bill might actually pass the Senate and be signed into law.

    1. avatar DJL says:

      Or be signed by Obama if it makes it past the senate.

      1. avatar Tom says:

        Yup. I just do not see the Senate or Obama passing this bill.

        1. avatar mikeb302000 says:

          I agree it’s not going anywhere, but the interesting thing is how many pro-gun folks think it should.

          Think about all the concealed carry permit holders in AZ. Take the average guy. Compare him to the average concealed carry guy in MA or NJ. Which one is safer to be around?

          That’s a rhetorical question which goes to point out the obvious common sense behind the opposition of this ridiculous NRA, gun-lobby, gun- manufacturer initiative.

        2. avatar Robert Farago says:

          They’re both safe. Statistically, you can round the incidence of incidents to zero. Really Mike, you can. Try it and tell us how it “feels.”

        3. avatar tdiinva says:

          There were at least two CCW holders at the Giffords shooting. Neither used his gun because they had no clear targets and in one case could not ID the bad guy. Sounds like they were safe to me.

          It isn’t the class room training that makes you a safe CCW holder, it’s how much practical experience you have carrying your weapon. I carry for familiarity as much it as for personal protection.

        4. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

          I’m not convinced that’s a fair way of describing what happened. I figure there were several more than two guys present, being Arizona and all, but the reason none of them helped is because the whole thing happened too quickly. The way you say it, which to me sounds like the best possible spin, you’d think the two guys you mentioned were drawing a bead on the guy but using incredible discretion and lightning-fast thinking chose not to shoot.

          The fact is, in the highly unlikely event that one of you heroes is present at an incident like that, the chances that you’ll be positioned exactly at the right vantage point to do something in the few seconds needed is even more unlikely.

          That’s what happened in AZ that day, the first unlikely thing happened but the second didn’t.

        5. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

          the better part it is apparent you fail to comprehend, Michael, is that the Loughner shooter took advantage of AZ law’s constitutional carry. HE DID NOT HAVE A PERMIT. Now, if you got your nose out of Bloomberg’s ass, you would read the actual bill and see A PERMIT IS REQUIRED. Thus, under HR822, an AZ citizen, wishing to carry concealed in any other state, would have to apply for a permit in AZ (they kept their old permitting system). Anyone who fails to meet the criteria established under AZ law would not be able to get a permit and thus would not be able to carry outside of AZ using an AZ permit. Simple stuff to understand, really.

        6. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

          That’s a good point. I may have confused the Constitutional carry guys with the guys in AZ who actually get a permit.

          It doesn’t change what I say much though does it? Your best argument is the one Robert proffered, that the percentages are too low to worry about. I disagree with that, but it’s really all you guys have.

        7. avatar Silver says:

          Classic mikeb…disagreeing with a statistic because…well, because it furthers his agenda to do so. No logic, rhyme, or reason to it.

          And again he says “all we have” is overwhelming proof through statistics and fact. Thanks for proving us right, buddy.

        8. avatar Totenglocke says:

          Considering that the typical concealed carry person in MA or NJ is a friend of the CLEO? Probably the ones from AZ – they don’t have a cop buddy to get them off the hook if they do something stupid.

  2. avatar Chas says:

    And when the bloody mayhem never occurs, the antis fall strangely silent, even when you ask them pointed questions about why their predictions never came true. Why is that?

    1. avatar Totenglocke says:

      Because they have the media on their side, thus they can never be wrong in the eyes of the moronic masses.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    I carry in PA with a Florida permit. The Inquirer can bite me, as I got mine when I lived in Florida years ago. They lost the argument about Phila county having different gun laws than the other counties when the state told them they can’t require a special philadelphia permit for philly carry.

    Florida permits are expensive and far more complicated to get and renew. The comment about “clearly” turning to Florida is anything but. Left wing hacks like to use language like this on the sheep since it’s accepted as fact.

    I like the comparison to a driver’s license. It’s beyond easy to get behind the wheel at age 16 while carrying a handgun requires background checks, training (in some cases) and to be 21 YOA.
    Think about how much carnage a teenager in a Honda can cause

    1. avatar Manny says:

      Think about how much carnage a teenager in a Honda HAS CAUSED…

  4. avatar HSR47 says:

    “whenever the subject of expanding citizens’ carry rights comes up”

    You mean the subject of *restoring* our carry rights.

  5. avatar Kevin M says:

    I love it when a “progressive” agenda in a news article is so carefully and completely exposed and refuted with facts. Good job!

  6. avatar Taurus609 says:

    Bruce, great article, but you’re preaching to the choir. Most of us that read TTAG agree with everything you have said, and we would be disappointed if Mikeb302000 didn’t throw his anti stance in just to rile up the troops. But I would rather see this well informed, well written rebuttal sent to the Inquirer (and any other paper that misstates the facts) to blast the lies they and most other media outlets espouse. And yes I know that media outlets like this will never change their stance on guns, but there are many good folks that read said papers and they need the truth! And maybe after time and good rebuttals like this make there way into the comment sections of news organizations, they (the papers) will see that folks aren’t believing their BS anymore.

    1. avatar Bruce W. Krafft says:

      T-man, I actually did send a copy to the Inquirer. They said it “does not meet our editorial guidelines”. When I pressed for more information they directed me to their letters to the editor guidelines page which said I could have 150 characters (or possibly words). When I asked about submitting the piece as a column they said I needed to be “an accredited journalist” to be considered as a column writer. I thought about pushing it farther but images of dead horses and buggy whips started coming to mind so I let it drop.

      1. avatar Silver says:

        I guess “accredited journalist” is the new lingo for “sensationalist liar.”

      2. avatar Taurus609 says:

        Nice way for them to quite the opposition. If no one can write a rebuttal, then what they wrote must be the truth!

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    So the dweebs in Philly are complaining about the evil Florida assault licenses?Since Pennsylvania already recignizes Florida CCW licenses, it seems to me that the ship has already sailed, and HR822 would not impose any further “burden” on Pennsylvania’s powers.

    Obviously, this isn’t an argument about interstate recognition. This is an argument between the lords of the City of Brotherly FU and the government of the Keystone State. I suggest that the City has already lost, but the gungrabbers are zombies and are never really dead.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      no – the issue is Philly wants to argue there is some great big “loophole” when in reality, the one guy in question was a loophole of the freaking criminal justice system. He had been arrested and his case was pending before he applied for the PA permit, and thus his permit was denied. His case was dismissed later and he applied for a Florida permit. Perfectly legal. He then shot at some kids trying to steal his car. At that time, PA didn’t have the full Castle Doctrine and thus he was prosecuted. If Bloomberg’s people want to use this as an example to keep out HR822, then fine. We can use the example of his Deputy mayor who BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIS WIFE that all New Yorkers are wife beaters and felons and should lose their right to vote. Thanks Mike.

      1. avatar Totenglocke says:

        “We can use the example of his Deputy mayor who BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIS WIFE that all New Yorkers are wife beaters and felons and should lose their right to vote. ”

        Given how they vote in Presidential elections, I wouldn’t be opposed to that. =p

  8. avatar William says:

    Fear of inanimate objects is going to lead to emotionalism and hand crafted lies to allow the phobic grabbers to pretend they are the intellectual, liberal elite. It always surprises me, but it shouldn’t – how folks like mikeylotsanumbers will trot out tired, over used, baseless arguments, but pull a total fade when someone calls for real, empirical data.

    But that’s the way of the grabbers as far as I can read – lie and twist to prove a bankrupt ideology and ignore any request for reality.

  9. avatar Silver says:

    As a PA resident, this comes as no surprise…Philly is to the majority of PA residents like an embarrassing cousin you don’t like to admit is part of the family. Like most big cities, its liberal ideology is a rather isolated plague that is not indicative of how the entire state feels. PA gun owners have been fighting Philly government and the city’s police department for quite some time, with mixed results. Many CCers and especially OCers tend to avoid Philly due to the incredibly corrupt police department’s lack of knowledge on carry laws. Is it any surprise a liberal rag has even worse real-world knowledge of what carry truly means?

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