Casey proposes gun bill, sheriff braces for permit rush

John Joyce
Stephen Sasdi, of York City, skates by the York County Administrative Center in York City, as a flag is flown at half-staff  Monday, June 13, 2016. President Barack Obama directed that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday, honoring the victims of the recent attack in Orlando. Dawn J. Sagert photo
  • The bill would prevent anyone convicted of a hate crime from buying a gun
  • It would also reinstitute a federal ban on assault rifles and extended magazines

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey responded to Sunday's deadly attack at an Orlando gay nightclub, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, with legislation aimed at tightening the nation's gun laws — even as local law enforcement prepares for an anticipated increase in concealed carry permit applications.

The Pennsylvania Democrat Monday announced the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would not only prevent those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing guns but also reinstitute a federal ban on assault rifles and extended magazines and ban those on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms.

In a news release announcing the proposed measure, Casey called the attack in Orlando an "act of terror" and an "attack on the LGBT community."

"Today I am praying for all those impacted by (Sunday's) horrific attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando. Our nation stands in solidarity with the victims, their families and the City of Orlando," Casey said.

"It is time for Congress to finally act on gun violence and ban military-style weapons, put limits on clips and magazine sizes, ban those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms and require background checks on all gun sales," he said.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania

Senate candidate Katie McGinty sent out a news release a short time after Casey's measure was announced, supporting the potential legislation. She said she applauded Casey for proposing an important step in keeping Americans safe.

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"The attack on the LGTB nightclub in Orlando on Sunday was an act of terror and hate, with dozens of lives lost and many more injured," McGinty said in her release. "While we continue to learn more about the perpetrator and his motives, what is clear is that we need to take serious action to protect out communities and prevent horrific incidents like this from occurring."

By the numbers: Historically, the number of applications to the York County Sheriff's Office for permits to carry concealed weapons spikes after mass shootings, and this time will likely be no different, officials said Monday.

So far in 2016, 5,489 of the 5,681 permits applied for have been issued, Deputy Wayne Boyce said.

Boyce has worked in the sheriff's permit office for 10 years. He said applications flood in following every mass shooting dating as far back as the attack on Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

"It happens every time," Boyce said.

Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state, meaning unless the issuing office can show just cause as to why a person should be denied, the concealed-carry permit shall be issued.

"Permits will be denied for anybody that is a felon or a person not to possess," Boyce said. He explained that if a person has a lesser conviction that could have resulted in a two-year prison sentence or more — even if the defendant receives probation or some other alternate sentence — that person will be denied.

"If you could have received more than two years, you will be denied," he said.

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Additionally, any person convicted of a drug offense, no matter how minor, will be denied. If a person messed up at 18  or 19 years old and had a joint in their pocket, that person is out of luck, Boyce said.

And while Pennsylvania shares reciprocity with more than a dozen other states that issue carry permits, a person moving permanently to the state has to reapply for a state-issued permit. For instance, when a person moves to Pennsylvania from another state and is issued a Pennsylvania driver's license, Pennsylvania becomes that person's domicile state.

"We have reciprocity with 15 or 17 other states," Boyce said. "But as soon as Pennsylvania becomes your domicile state, that (out-of-state) permit is no longer any good."

— Reach John Joyce atjjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at @JohnJoyceYD.