Friday, July 25, 2014

Philadelphia Agrees to Settlement, Training, License Procedures for Guns

The City of Philadelphia recently settled a class action lawsuit concerning people who had applied for a license to carry firearms (LTCF).   The City did not admit to any wrongdoing, but they agreed to pay 1.4 million dollars in settlement fees, and to change procedures.   The lawsuit stemmed from the city posting personal information contained in applications on line and available to the public.

While the City did not admit to any wrong doing, what they agreed to do in the future is quite revealing.   The actual settlement agreement is available online here, in a PDF file.

First, the City agreed not to post LTCF information where the public could find it.    That is expected.   It is the following actions that are more significant.  They are:

The City will not require references for LTCF applications.   This can be a major hurdle for someone trying to obtain a carry license.   Not everyone knows people who are willing to be a reference for an action the local government clearly disapproves of.   It is also possible that references can be intimidated or found to be "unacceptable".

The City will not require naturalization papers for citizens or legal residents who provide a passport, unless they can show reason to do so, such as irregularities in the passport.   Thus, another considerable paperwork burden is eliminated.

The City will not deny LTCF on the basis of convictions or charges where the conviction or charge was expunged or pardoned.   What good is an expungement or pardon, if you are still treated as if they did not happen?

The City will process applications within 45 calendar days, and notify the applicants of the decision.   This is required by Pennsylvania law.   I suspect that the City was not following the law previously.

If the application is denied, the City will refund $15 of the $20 application fee.  A small thing, but it is a little less incentive for the City to deny applications, and a little less risk in applying for a license.

The City shall train employees not to tell applicants that they *must* disclose the possession of a LTCF permit or a firearm to police officers.   Such disclosure is voluntary under Pennsylvania law.

The City shall train officers not to confiscate any LTCF license or legally carried firearm unless there is probable cause to believe the license or firearm is evidence of a crime.   If confiscated, officers *must* provide a receipt, including information such as officer name and badge number, and serial number of the firearm being confiscated.  This is a simple step that should have been followed all along.   All too often, Cities engage in legalized theft of firearms.

The City shall not require applicants to disclose if they own firearms as part of the application process.

The City does not admit of any wrongdoing, but... Look at what they say they will do now!   Add up all of the above and consider what steps the City may have been taking to chill the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms. 

The settlement is a great step forward for second amendment supporters in Philadelphia, but how far the City has fallen from the days of Benjamin Franklin!

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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