By Paul Helmke
WASHINGTON --- In a tragic vindication of public concerns about Pennsylvanians, and residents of other states, getting concealed weapons permits from outside their home state, Philadelphia police reported last week that a man with a Florida permit whose Pennsylvania permit had been revoked shot an 18-year-old 13 times and killed him
Marqus Hill, 28, had his Pennsylvania concealed weapons permit revoked two years ago, then applied for and received a Florida permit, which Pennsylvania law considers valid. A bill in the Pennsylvania state legislature would change that - but in the United States Senate, Senator John Thune (R-SD) has sponsored a bill to let people from states with the weakest gun laws in the nation carry hidden, loaded weapons in states with much stronger laws.
Today, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Paul Helmke suggested that Pat Toomey, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, announce where he stands on the so-called Thune Amendment.
“Mr. Toomey has touted his opposition to sensible gun laws,” Helmke said. “It is time, in the aftermath of the recent Philadelphia homicide, for Mr. Toomey to tell the voters where he stands on whether Pennsylvania should be required to honor out-of-state concealed weapons permits. If Pennsylvania deems someone too dangerous to have a state permit, they shouldn’t be able to circumvent state law by getting a permit from another state, and then be able to carry a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania.”
Toomey recently faced harsh criticism for saying that his “idea of gun control is a steady aim.” As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Toomey voted for a substitute measure to gut efforts to close the gun show loophole - which allows sales of guns without Brady background checks - two months after the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999. He voted in 2003 to deny gun violence victims access to the courts to pursue cases against reckless gun dealers.
On his campaign website, Toomey’s staff writes: “Like the First Amendment’s right to free speech and a free press, the Second Amendment must be protected. As a member of Congress, Pat received top scores from organizations that are dedicated to gun ownership rights and policies. He would consistently support those policies in the Senate.” Toomey fails to note that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the rights established in the Second Amendment, like those in the First Amendement, are “not unlimited.”
Pennsylvania State Representative Bryan Lentz, who is running for the U.S. House for the seat being vacated by Toomey’s opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak, is the principal sponsor of the legislation in Harrisburg to tighten controls on the out-of-state permits.