Inherent in the “right to keep and bear arms” is that individuals have a right to carry a gun. You know, that whole “bear arms” thing. However, as a society, we somehow decided that people could only carry a firearm legally in many places if they obtained permission from the government. Now, this was stupid, in my not-so-humble opinion, but it’s the law.
Because it’s the law, it’s imperative that the government make every effort to provide those required permits in a timely manner, otherwise, people’s rights are being denied.
It seems the Gun Owners of America agree, which is why they’re using the courts to try and pressure the city of Philadelphia to cut down the permit delays.
A gun-rights group accused the Philadelphia Police Department of illegally forcing residents to wait up to 18 months to apply for a gun-carry permit in a lawsuit.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) said the city has infringed on the rights of local residents by ignoring a Pennsylvania law that requires localities to process applications within 45 days. Val Finnel, the group’s Pennsylvania director, said the lengthy wait times actively harm locals who are seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“They’re essentially denying the right to defend yourself,” Finnel told the Washington Free Beacon.
The GOA acknowledged the strain that Covid-19 had placed on government agencies, but said the delays—some stretching into 2022—were unprecedented in the region. While some Pennsylvania cities and counties moved the permitting process online or through the mail to accommodate a surge in gun sales, Philadelphia authorities have made no attempt to abide by state law. Finnel pointed to neighboring Bucks County, which has managed to process applications on a walk-in basis without any of the delays Philadelphia residents face.
“If they say they can delay receiving the application, then they can delay it indefinitely,” Finnel said. “Our argument is a right delayed is a right denied.”
And, to be sure, a right delayed truly is a right denied, even if only for a short period of time. Waiting until 2022 is not a short period of time.
While many may be understanding of temporary delays brought about by a combination of surging interest in obtaining firearm permits and decreased manpower due to COVID, the truth is that such understanding is temporary at best. At some point, a municipality has to find a way around those delays and step up their efforts.
Philadelphia is clearly not doing that, hence the lawsuit.
Frankly, it’s litigation that needs to happen. While some have seen their application process sped up after media attention, plenty of other law-abiding citizens are forced to wait for up to two years just to have a chance to get a permit. That’s beyond ridiculous.
Meanwhile, let’s remember that the criminals don’t undergo wait times before they start carrying a gun. In other words, this puts law-abiding citizens at a distinct and profound disadvantage when compared to the bad guys who would like to do them harm.
Of course, the state of Pennsylvania could do something about this once and for all, but I just don’t see Governor Tom Wolf signing constitutional carry in his state.