"There’s not even a database to determine whether it’s a valid permit. Many permits from other states don't even have photographs on the permit. It’s simply a card with writing on it," Ramsey said.
Ramsey feels that states should have the choice to reject reciprocity for states like Florida whose requirements for a concealed carry permit aren’t up to par.
"We've denied permits and the same individual gets a permit from Florida, even though we’ve denied them the permit in Pennsylvania," Ramsey said. In Philadelphia, charges of stalking, impersonating a police officer, and domestic violence problems make a person ineligible for a permit.
In his written testimony, Ramsey said 36 states did not issue permits to people under the age of 21. Only 35 states require some kind of gun safety training or live-fire practice.
H.R. 822 would mean more concealed weapons in the hands of more people who haven’t been trained in use of force and weapons handling, he said.
And "This is all happening in the context of a traffic stop where tensions may already be running high. The officer is faced with an individual who has a loaded gun, and the officer is unable to verify whether the person is carrying that gun legally. With this law in effect, police would see an out-of-state permit, and simply be required to honor it," he added.
On Monday, a coalition of 600 mayors, along with police organizations, domestic violence groups, and prosecutors, announced a campaign to defend the states’ rights to decide who can carry concealed weapons. In less than five days more than 45,000 signed a petition against the bill.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) argue that it would make things easier for traffickers to move guns across state lines. "If a trafficker simply displays an out-of-state concealed-carry permit, even if they have a trunk full of guns they brought from another state, a police officer would be obliged to let them go unless the trafficker was actually caught in the act of illegally selling a gun," MAIG said in a press release.
"We as police leaders cannot leave our officers, whose safety is our first priority, without a mechanism to determine if the permit they hold in their hands is real and valid," Ramsey said.
"The right-to-carry a concealed and loaded gun is already a highly contested debate. I ask Congress to leave this debate where it should remain, as a decision for each state."
photo of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey by Irish Philadelphia Photo Essays from flickr