For the second time since the pandemic began, the city of Philadelphia has course-corrected after being sued by gun-rights activists.
Gun Owners of America (GOA) announced on Tuesday it would drop its lawsuit against Philadelphia after the city confirmed to a Pennsylvania court it is issuing Licenses to Carry Firearms (LTCF) within the 45-day window required by state law. GOA filed the suit after the city repeatedly failed to meet the deadline over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Philadelphia is now issuing LTCF permits faster than at any point in history,” Val Finnell, GOA’s Pennsylvania director, said in a press release. “They seem to have finally realized that GOA is not going to tolerate them thumbing their nose at the law and will sue them again and again if necessary until they do their jobs.”
Philadelphia’s shift in its permitting practice is just the latest victory for gun-rights activists in lawsuits over gun permits against cities across the country. It also marks the third time that Philadelphia specifically has been sued for creating delays to its carry permit process in recent months.
At the onset of the COVID pandemic last March, the city shut down the application process for residents to obtain permits and kept it shuttered for longer than most other counties in the state. Even after its Gun Permit Unit reopened, the city delayed accepting permit applications for up to 18 months. That prompted separate lawsuits from gun rights groups like the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and GOA.
Though the city eventually agreed to accept permit applications online, several residents claimed the city was refusing to allow approved applicants to receive their issued permits, creating the impetus for this latest suit from GOA.
“Last October, Philadelphia wanted residents to wait months just to apply. Now they want residents to wait months to pick up their application,” Andrew Austin, who represented GOA in the case, told The Reload at the time. “Gun Owners of America sued them last year—forcing them to take applications—and now we have to sue them again so they’ll issue them.”
With the City finally agreeing to comply with state law, the group sees the decision as an improvement for residents wishing to lawfully carry a gun.
“While it’s unfortunate that Philadelphians still must wait several weeks to receive their permits, it’s better than the months or years that the City wanted residents to wait to exercise their natural right to protect themselves and their families,” Finnell said.