Yesterday long discredited gun researcher John Lott took to FoxNews.com to push the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act, which the House of Representatives is voting on this afternoon. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would force states that issue residents permits to carry concealed guns to accept permits from any other state regardless of how weak the standards used by that state.
Lott's main argument was the idea that forcing states to recognize permits to carry concealed guns from other states was just like states recognizing out of state driver licenses. Generally the idea that permits to carry concealed guns are like driver licenses is absurd. Licensing, insurance, training, enforcement and registration requirements are vastly different for driver licenses and permits to carry concealed guns.
Beyond that broader concern, issues with Lott's comparison include the fact that his description of Philadelphia police chief Charles Ramsey's recent congressional testimony completely misrepresents the facts behind Ramsey's objections to the National Right-Carry Reciprocity Act.
In testimony before the House in September, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey raised two concerns.
First, he gave an example where a Pennsylvania resident with a misdemeanor conviction had been obtained a concealed handgun permit in Florida. However, his example overlooks that because the conviction was quite old, the person could have obtained a Pennsylvania license if he had so chosen.
Commissioner Ramsey also raised a hypothetical case: "How is the Brookfield officer supposed to verify that the Utah permit is real and up-to-date?" The answer is: the same way as for a driver's license -- via computer.
This is an amazingly inaccurate description of the case Ramsey cited. Ramsey cited the case of Marqus Hill, who is currently under indictment for murder after shooting a car burglar 13 times. Lott's assertion that Hill could have gotten a Pennsylvania permit is expressly contradicted by the facts. As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer Hill lost his Pennsylvania permit and an appeal to have his permit restored:
When police stripped Marqus Hill of his permit to carry a gun in Philadelphia after a 2005 confrontation with officers, Hill didn't let that stop him: He just applied for a firearms license from Florida.
Though police said Hill had lost a 2008 appeal to win back his Philadelphia permit and reacted by assaulting a police officer in court, Florida mailed him a gun license last year.
Also Hill pled guilty to disorderly conduct related to his outburst at the hearing in 2008, whereas Lott suggests his only conviction was "quite old."
Lott's suggestion that police can verify concealed carry permits "the same way" as a driver's license is also flatly false. There is a system similar to the driver's license database police use, but it only contains 12 states' concealed carry records. To get information from other states police must identify and contact the appropriate local officials. For those states police can't query a database as they do for driver licenses.
The Virginia State police have said 7 states can't provide 24 hour access to concealed carry permit information in response to an inquiry from Lori Haas whose daughter was shot in during the Virginia Tech mass shooting. Nor are the existing state databases necessarily accurate; Colorado's, for examples, is riddled with errors. This is not a hypothetical concern, Philadelphia police say they already cannot always verify that out of state permits are valid in a timely manner.
Ramsey is hardly the only law enforcement official concerned about the National Right-To-Carry Act. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, The Police Foundation and the Major Cities Chiefs' Association all oppose the bill