Far too many jurisdictions seemed to look at COVID-19 as a blessing. Suddenly, they figured they had an excuse not to issue carry permits anymore or, at a minimum, to delay the ever-loving crap out of them. One such jurisdiction was Philadelphia.
The City of Brotherly Love doesn’t particularly love a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, but their hands have been tied as to whether or not they could issue the permits.
Then COVID-19 came and they could drag their feet all they wanted and there was nothing anyone could do.
Well, that’s what they may have thought, anyway. They were very wrong.
A federal judge heard arguments Monday afternoon that Philadelphia trampled gun rights after a resurgence of Covid-19 cases struck the police unit that handles permit requests.
The Firearm Policy Coalition brought the suit Friday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, joined by two young men, 29-year-old Keith Fetsurka and 35-year-old Timothy Sieck, who have been waiting months on Philadelphia’s massive backlog just to apply for a permit to carry a loaded handgun.
Philadelphia shut down the Gun Permit Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department in March during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when only essential business was permitted. The office reopened in July, but appointments are backlogged through 2022.
Fetsurka says his long-awaited appointment was supposed to be Nov. 19, but the office abruptly closed the day before.
As explained in a tweet from the city’s police department, the permit unit is closed until at least Dec. 7 because of an outbreak in its own office.
Fetsurka and the others filed for an injunction Monday, calling it unconstitutional that the city is effectively banning loaded handguns with no exemption for law-abiding citizens.
And that’s exactly what’s going on.
In my own state of Georgia, all probate courts were shut down early in the pandemic, but the attorney general’s office noted that police can’t actually ask to see your permit without probable cause and carrying a firearm isn’t probable cause on its own, which kind of makes Georgia an almost constitutional carry state.
Pennsylvania, however, doesn’t seem to have that kind of protection. They have unlicensed open carry…except in Philadelphia. So people in the city are, effectively, banned from carrying a firearm until the city decides to open their office back up.
Now, I’m sympathetic regarding concerns over COVID-19 showing up in their office, but to be less than sensitive, that’s their problem, not Fetsurka’s. They should have put a plan in place to handle this early in the pandemic, understanding that this was a potentiality. They didn’t, and they expect Fetsurka and others to pay the price.
Sorry, but that dog don’t hunt.
We’ll have to wait and see just how this pans out, but my hope is that the courts recognize that a right delayed is a right denied and will step up and do the right thing. The citizens of Philadelphia deserve to have their right to keep and bear arms protected, not restricted like we’re seeing now.