Philadelphia Sued, Again, For Shutting Down Gun Carry Permits

( Philadelphia recently shuttered its process for gun carry permits, and now it’s facing a lawsuit because of the decision.

The city has been accused of infringing on the Second Amendment rights of its citizens, according to a lawsuit filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC). The city recently stopped its process for receiving permits for three weeks over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FPC, a gun rights group, requested the federal court issue a temporary restraining order on the practice. That would then require Philadelphia to restart the permit process, providing residents with the opportunity to apply remotely. That request was denied, though.

Another hearing in this case is scheduled for November 30.

The director of legal strategy for the group, Adam Kraut, said:

“We’re hoping to have the court rule that the shutdown of the Gun Permit Unit amounts to a total destruction of individuals’ rights to bear arms outside of the home.”

One of the biggest arguments the FPC has in this case is that the city of Philadelphia has left open other permitting offices. There are requirements for social distancing at driver and photo license centers, for example, but they all remain open to the public.

The Philadelphia Police Department didn’t respond to comment requests from the Washington Free Beacon. However, the department did post a message on the Gun Permit Unit’s website that said they were shutting down the process due to “several positive COVID-19 cases and the need to quarantine as advised by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.”

All appointments that were already scheduled are cancelled through at least December 7, the website read. During that time, the facility for gun carry permits would be cleaned and sanitized.

The lawyer for the FPC said the lawsuit wasn’t attacking the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect people. Rather, the suit is attacking the police department’s decision to suspend all permitting activity completely while they do it, rather than coming up with any alternatives to applying in-person.

Other counties such as Schuylkill and Berks in Pennsylvania accept permits for gun carry applications online. Kraut said:

“There is a mechanism that they could set up … in which they receive the applications, they process them, and then they either call the person down in person or … send them [a certification] via mail. They could certainly accept applications by mail. They could accept applications by common carrier. They could even set up a locked drop box for people to physically drop off an application. There’s a whole bunch of alternatives that exist, and there’s no indication that they’ve even considered them.”

There is a huge backlog in Pennsylvania — and other parts of the country — for gun-carry permits, as demand for gun ownership has surged during the pandemic.

Philadelphia has also been accussed of violating a state law that requires gun carry permits to be decided upon within 45 days of the application being submitted. The city has a pending case in state court that was brought by Gun Owners of America.