Concealed Carry in Pennsylvania:Leading the Nationwide Charge


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Duke Junior
September 22, 2008, 12:57 PM
Pennsylvanian's are serious about their firearms.:)
Some of the usual bias crops up in the article.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2008/09/guns.html

Who's packing heat? You might be surprised
by MARY WARNER, The Patriot-News
Sunday September 21, 2008, 12:05 AM

A pit bull lunges for a 4-year-old boy as he walks with his father to Saturday services at a Harrisburg synagogue. The father pulls his pistol and shoots the dog. In the parking lot of an Annville-Cleona school, a student finds a loaded handgun. Turns out, a school bus driver with a permit to carry it dropped it from her purse.
In the wake of a shooting outside Harrisburg Mall, police arrest and then release an armed man in a car. He's not a suspect, they say, and he has a permit to pack that pistol. Recent stories like these point to a quiet revolution in American gun laws that began two decades ago, with Pennsylvania in the vanguard.


Ordinary people -- who need only to pass a criminal and mental-illness background check -- get permits to carry loaded guns in their cars or purses or holsters under their jackets.

Some of those people -- such as Patty Casciano-Light, a 50-year-old speech pathologist from Derry Twp., who recently took up sports shooting -- carry their guns only to target practice.

Others -- such as Josh First, who shot a pit bull on the way to prayers -- go armed most of the time. "I refuse to be a victim," the 43-year-old businessman says.

Five in every 100 midstaters 21 and older have a permit to carry a concealed gun. Statewide, the number is almost seven in every 100, according to state police records reviewed by The Patriot-News.

And the number of permits is climbing. Amid a recent campaign by gun-rights groups to encourage applications, sheriffs around the state saw a sharp increase in applications last year.

'I want to be comfortable'
Gun-rights activist Kim Stolfer says he doubts there were as many as 10,000 Pennsylvanians with concealed-weapon permits before the state law changed in 1989.

Now there are more than three times that many in the four-county midstate alone, records show. Statewide, the number is almost 600,000.

In a campaign that began two years ago, gun-rights groups in Pennsylvania have been urging people to go to their sheriff's department and get a concealed-weapon permit, which lasts five years.

Without it, Stolfer says, people heading to the target range with a gun in the car could find themselves on the wrong side of the law. "We've been working very hard to educate gun owners about their liability," he says.

That campaign is one likely reason for a spike in permits issued last year -- 59 percent higher statewide and 55 percent higher in the midstate, compared with the average of the last eight years.

There's no comparable rise in gun sales, so many of the new permits appear to be going to people who already own guns.

Studies suggest the typical applicant nationwide for a concealed-weapon permit is a middle-age white man. In a typical scenario, he bought the pistol to carry when he's fishing, in case he runs into a bear.

But sheriff's departments in Dauphin and Perry counties report more women applying for permits these days.

Patty Casciano-Light is one example. She says she wanted to boost her discipline and concentration, and she was drawn to a male-dominated sport.

"I thought women can compete as well as men," says Casciano-Light, who carries her pistol in a diamond-studded case made by her husband.

For some of those women, though, fear is the motivation.

A Lewisberry woman, who gives her name only as Betty, cites a rash of nighttime break-ins near her house and the stabbing death of a woman on a West Hanover Twp. patio last year. Police who arrested a truck driver in the case accuse him of targeting women along his route.

That's why she bought a gun and signed up for lessons in how to handle it, Betty says. She'll get a concealed-weapon permit, too, even though she won't carry the gun when she goes out.

If she ever has to shoot, Betty says, "I want all the legal protection I could have."

Betty withholds her last name for security reasons; she says she doesn't want to advertise that she has a gun in her house. She's a professional in information technology, married, and describes herself as a mild-mannered 50-something who had never been comfortable with guns.

More or less violence?
For decades, under laws passed amid Prohibition-era gang violence, most Americans were barred from carrying concealed weapons. That began to change in the late ยค'80s, under pressure from gun-rights activists.

Their efforts gained momentum from the 1991 trial testimony of a woman who saw her parents and 21 others gunned down in a mass shooting in a Texas cafeteria. If the law had let her carry her pistol in her purse, she told the court, she might have been able to save lives.

Pennsylvania was among the first states to act. Now, 34 states have so-called "shall issue" laws, assuring a concealed-weapon permit to anyone who meets basic requirements -- no record of crimes involving drugs or violence, no involuntary mental health commitments, no record of domestic abuse. Some states, though not Pennsylvania, also require training in gun use.

Gun-rights groups insisted that more law-abiding people with guns would mean less violence. Gun-control groups predicted more violence -- the result of spur-of-the-moment shootings, gun thefts, an added incentive to criminals to take up arms.

Now, after crime rates dipped in the '90s then leveled off and are rising again, both sides have studies to back their arguments.

But isolating one factor among the myriad of demographic and economic influences on crime is notoriously complex. And the most sophisticated analyses support neither the warnings nor the promises that swirled around the "shall issue" laws, sociologist Gregg Carter says.

Instead, their real impact is on social trust, says Carter, co-author of "Gun Control in the United States: A Reference Handbook."

"The average person feels less safe sitting in a bar and thinking a lot of people there have guns on them," he says.

The places where guns are prohibited under Pennsylvania law make a relatively short list: casinos, courts, day care centers, homes for the mentally retarded, and schools. (The bus driver who dropped her gun at school was suspended.)

Property owners and businesses can issue their own prohibitions, and many do, but there are efforts in some states to limit that ability. Florida recently passed a law that says an employer can't prohibit workers with permits from keeping loaded guns in their cars in the parking lot.

And in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, at least 15 states considered -- and rejected -- laws that would have required colleges to let students with permits go to class armed.

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Aran
September 22, 2008, 12:59 PM
Some of us, anyhow.

Others run in fear at the thought of guns. Even more others call the police at the sight of guns.

Sigh.

indiandave
September 22, 2008, 02:37 PM
I live in N.E. Pa. Guns are pretty common here.When I applied for my LTCF,I was just one of many applying that day.I moved from New Jersey. In NJ it seams only the bad guys are allowed to carry guns.

geekWithA.45
September 22, 2008, 02:42 PM
I live a few miles the county court house/sherriff's office, and I wind up doing business in that building every coupla months.

Every single time I've been inside, there's been 15-20 people in the LTCF line.

Every. Single. Time.

geekWithA.45
September 22, 2008, 02:49 PM
For decades, under laws passed amid Prohibition-era gang violence,

no. No. NO.

NFA 1934, and all the anti-carry laws had zip zilch nothing to do with Al Capone and his gangsters.

That was the cover story and political fig leaf, and we must never believe that was the actual motivation.

The real, underlying motivations were twofold:

1) Racism. Pure and simple.
2) The Bonus March. Congress was scared whitless that after the army bulldozed and burned the marcher's camps, they might organize another march, and this time, the veterans might not be persuaded they ought to leave their rifles at home.

Vermont
September 22, 2008, 03:00 PM
The article sounded pretty unbiased to me. They got quotes from both sides of the story, and to be honest, it seemed like they spent more time talking about the pro gun side.

jahwarrior
September 22, 2008, 03:03 PM
the last time i checked, the amount of people in PA with LTCFs numbered over 300,000. that's a lot of bitter people.... ;P

Duke Junior
September 22, 2008, 03:25 PM
The article sounded pretty unbiased to me. They got quotes from both sides of the story, and to be honest, it seemed like they spent more time talking about the pro gun side.

Maybe I'm seeing the glass half empty and you're seeing it half full,Vermont.:)
Take this half baked comment by sociologist Gregg Carter:

Instead, their real impact is on social trust, says Carter, co-author of "Gun Control in the United States: A Reference Handbook."

"The average person feels less safe sitting in a bar and thinking a lot of people there have guns on them," he says.

The 'Who's Packing Heat' headline is getting a little stale.
I'll admit it was better than many I've seen recently.

the last time i checked, the amount of people in PA with LTCFs numbered over 300,000. that's a lot of bitter people.... ;P

It's closer to 600,000, the most in the USA.
By per capita population,Indiana is number 1 with around 400,000 permits,I believe.
Hoosiers love their guns too.

geekWithA.45
September 22, 2008, 05:34 PM
An oft quoted, seldom cited bit of fun says that on the opening day of centerfire deer season, there are 1 million guys with guns running around the PA woods, making it the largest body of armed men in the world.

damien
September 22, 2008, 05:46 PM
I want some of that nationwide change, here, PRONTO (Illinois).

Also, I love this one:

"The average person feels less safe sitting in a bar and thinking a lot of people there have guns on them," he says.

So now the antis best argument is to argue that concealed carry creates irrational fear in some people instead of debating the actual statistics? That is fine with me, let them go down that road.

Duke Junior
September 22, 2008, 05:54 PM
I want some of that nationwide change, here, PRONTO (Illinois).

Well,the headline read Charge,but we will do our level best to get you long suffering Illini, Change.;)
No one needs it more.:)

SCKimberFan
September 22, 2008, 06:21 PM
Who's packing heat?

This is one of the media's favorite lines. The Headline shows the bias from the beginning.

JAG2955
September 22, 2008, 07:46 PM
Cool! Annville-Cleona mentioned! I graduated from there!

A lot of my friends would leave shotguns in their trucks for hunting after school. No one really cared. This was only 6-7 years ago.

I'm actually surprised that no one told me about the driver dropping her handgun.

Joe Cool
September 22, 2008, 08:36 PM
There is no such thing as " The Average Person", not with so many diverse perspectives on firearms out there. That is a giveaway to me about the author's bias. To me, the average person is just going along, minding their own business, grateful perhaps for the good things life has to offer. But even then, if half see the glass half full, and half see it half empty, there is no 'average person'. So sweeping statements like that reflect a bias on the author's part. If you sample my circle of friends, many would say the average person enjoys firearms, and they are grateful we live in the USA where there is in fact a Second Amendment versus other countries...

Everyone has fears, and each of us handle our fears, which are in themselves unique, in our own unique way... The author is projecting her fears into her sweeping statement of "The Average Person is afraid of ..."

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