‘Fla. loophole’ back in target

With Congress set to debate a bill that would force states to accept concealed-carry handgun permits from other states, the author of gun-control legislation in Pennsylvania claims the measure would devastate urban cities including Philadelphia.

The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, does not honor the restrictions of each state specifying who can have a permit — something law enforcement officials and lawmakers in Philadelphia have fought hard against in recent years. A House committee approved the bill last week, setting it up for a full vote in the House.

“If you had national reciprocity giving any more credence or support to the ‘Florida loophole,’ [it] would just be devastating not only to Philadelphia, but you would see the kind of problems you have in Philadelphia begin to take place all across the country,” state Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, said.

Law enforcement officials say the so-called Florida loophole has contributed to Philadelphia’s gun epidemic. Farnese’s proposal to eliminate the loophole has had little movement in Harrisburg, but he said it could gain steam in the spring.

“You have a new attorney general’s election very shortly. … A major issue in this election has got to be closing this loophole,” he said.

City Council and other municipalities have voiced opposition to the Reciprocity Act, but gun rights lobbyists are pushing hard to overpower that.

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