Last weekend, Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, an agency not usually known for its transparency and user-friendliness, unveiled a new web app that displays licensing, permit and violation information on a (relatively) easy-to-use interactive map. One of the more interesting aspects to this new data transparency is an array of gun permit appeals, essentially a list of Philadelphians who have been denied a gun permit or had their permit revoked and who have appealed to have the decision overturned.
The appeal information contained therein includes the appellant name, street address, and grounds for appeal, and I can only imagine that the National Rifle Association will have a few things to say about the city’s decision to publish the information, as the NRA typically doesn’t like lists of people who want to own guns.
Here, a sampling of the information found via the new app.
UPDATE [8/15/12, 9:30 a.m.]: It appears that the city has removed the gun permit appeal information from its site, and I have contacted an L&I spokesperson for an explanation, which I will report when it is provided.
UPDATE [8/15/12, 1:30 p.m.]: L&I spokesperson Maura Kennedy confirms that the information was removed from the city’s website at the request of the police department. The police referred me to the mayor’s office, and the mayor’s office says it is reviewing the matter.
UPDATE [8/15/12, 4:40 p.m.]: Mark McDonald from the mayor’s press office called with the following explanation: “The legal department has determined that this is public information. Its publication is legal. An individual who is denied a permit and files an appeal, that person has waived their right to confidentiality. All that said, within the government, there is a concern about the propriety of publishing the information, and so we’re looking at this again. On the one hand, city government wants to be transparent and believes in the concept of open data. Access to information makes for strong citizenry and effective government. But on the other hand, there are public safety concerns with regard to this information. Perhaps some of it should be redacted, although we haven’t made a conclusion that way. We’ll work toward a decision to whether this stuff gets put back up.”
UPDATE [8/15/12, 5:45 p.m.]: In light of concerns over public safety and in light of the fact that the city has removed Internet access to the information pending a policy review, we have redacted all names and addresses from this article.
Grounds: I forgot about a prior arrest which occurred when I was a juvenile. I also did not know that I was permitted to answer any questions regarding expungement.
Grounds: I was wrongly accused of being a bartender. I was not arrested or charged with any crime.
Grounds: I am pastor of a church; I carry large sums of money to bank at least 2-3 times a week. As a businessman, I was robbed once. I could very well be a target for the automobile I drive and my appearance.
Grounds: I answered all questions on the gun permit application truthfully. The previous referred to in the denial letter occurred more than thirty years ago.
Grounds: 18 PA. Cons. Stat 9124 (6)(1) prohibits consideration of information which was used as the sole grounds for denying my license.
Grounds: Your reasoning for disapproving me is speculative and illegal. I am a productive member of society with a family.
Grounds: I failed to mention a citation that occurred in 1996 that I forgot about.
Grounds: I answered truthfully. I didn’t remember the two previous arrests. They were ten years ago.
Grounds: I am appealing this because no charges were filed against me. I am a model citizen and I have never been in trouble.
Grounds: I failed to give truthful answer regarding previous arrest. This was an honest mistake. I did not purposely leave this information out.
Grounds: I gave all truthful answers to the best of my knowledge. I’ve been the best citizen of Philadelphia since my last arrest. I was never a dangerous person.
Grounds: I have never been convicted of a crime. I have never been in jail for more than 2-3 days. This is a mistake. I am handicapped and I should have the right to defend myself.
Grounds: I don’t think it was right for them to take my license. I was the victim. They came into my home and I shot a warning shot.
Grounds: I need my license reinstated for work.
Grounds: Arrest cited was over 18 years ago. Did not realize I had a record until I researched it myself. I was under the notion charge was no longer an issue. I am a CPA, licensed with PA.
Grounds: I, by mistake, checked off that I was never arrested when I indeed had been.
Grounds: As a business owner, I feel it is necessary for security. There are many Philadelphia residents who don’t have as much of a need to carry but are able to obtain it.
Grounds: I answered the questions to the best of my ability. I did not recall the charges against me in 1987.
Grounds: After completing program, record was supposed to be expunged. I was a teenager.
Grounds: The reason why my gun was left in my car was due to the fact that my brother asked me to watch my nephew for a few minutes and I was on my way out. My nephew likes to grab on me and hang on me and I was afraid he would grab my weapon. I never leave my weapon in my vehicle and would never do it again.
Grounds: The use of my medication has not affected my ability to function normally.
Grounds: PFA [protection from abuse order] was vacated on 2-12-2012.
Grounds: I disagree that I am an individual who would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety. I am a family man and a father. I think the reason I was denied was unjust and unfair; I forgot the date of a time I was arrested.
Grounds: I did not know that I had a record for an arrest because I was told at the time it would be expunged. The second time I was released on ROR so I assumed that would also be off my record. I would like to be approved for my permit to carry only to protect myself and family.
Grounds: Reason for denial is false and misleading. My character is of the highest standard and to be denied my rights as a citizen of the U.S.A. because of false accusations is not a sign of justice, which is one of the fundamental principles laid down by our forefathers.
Grounds: There was a misunderstanding of the two questions I answered “no”. My one prior was 1986 and the other was 1992. There was no intent to give the wrong information to the police. I have not been in trouble with the police for over 20 years. Please reevaluate my case.
Grounds: I didn’t mention the 1985 arrest because I didn’t remember it until it was brought to my attention. There are a lot of things in my past I don’t remember since my brain surgery three years ago. That’s why I was taking up this hobby, because I am no longer able to do my previous hobbies.
Grounds: The officer took my weapon and permit and stated “only drug dealers around that neighborhood carry guns”, and “we don’t need guns in this area.” The officer also stated he will make sure i don’t get either one back ever again.
Grounds: I dont agree.