Richard Alloway II Wants More Concealed Guns in Philadelphia

The problem: He lives in Chambersburg, 159 miles away. So why is he interfering with our local rules?

You’ve probably not heard of Richard Alloway II, and there’s a good reason for that: If you live in or around Philadelphia, you’ve never voted for him, never had a chance to vote for him, and unless he someday runs for state office, you never will. He’s a state senator from Chambersburg — 159 miles away.

Thing is, Philadelphia, Alloway is awfully interested in you.

Well, let’s rephrase that. He’s awfully interested in your guns. As in: He seems to think there aren’t enough guns floating around Philadelphia right now. Which is why he is sponsoring legislation to create a loophole in the city’s (apparently) tough permitting process to carry a concealed firearm. The city, he says, is denying Philadelphians their constitutional rights to carry hidden guns.

“I guess it’s simply because they’re anti-gun,” he told the Public Opinion.

That is the newspaper where Alloway lives.

One hundred fifty-nine miles away from Philadelphia.

True, Alloway’s loophole would at least have the neighborliness of being imposed on Philadelphia from Harrisburg, which is only 107 miles away. Because it would replace an older, now-defunct loophole that let city residents obtain concealed carry permits from Florida — which is closer to, oh, 1,000 miles away — a loophole that Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane worked earlier this year to close. More than 4,000 Pennsylvanians had obtained their concealed carry permits from the Sunshine State.

Under Alloway’s proposal, Philadelphians who don’t think they’re getting a fair shake from city officials here can instead go to an adjoining county and apply for a concealed-carry permit from the sheriff there.

With due respect to the sheriffs of our neighbors, it seems important to point this out — they’re not responsible for keeping law and order in our county. They don’t have to respond to murder scenes or provide death notices to a victim’s family here. So it’s a horrendous, and horrendously unfair, idea to give them the power to allow more guns where they bear no responsibility.

To be fair, Alloway’s proposal would be law in every county across the commonwealth. But like Sarah Palin, who can see Russia from her backyard, Alloway clearly has eyes for our fair city. Even though he lives 159 miles away, in a place where Alloway uses his own guns to hunt wabbits. It’s different there.

“If a citizen feels Philadelphia is violating his or her rights, then I want to afford them the opportunity to go to an adjacent county and make application there, pay the fee and get the opportunity for a permit to carry,” Alloway told his local, non-Philadelphia paper.

Alloway does this kind of thing regularly. Back in April, he proposed a bill that would punish Pennsylvania cities whose gun laws are tougher and more restrictive than the state’s gun laws. Guess who that was aimed at? (Hint: It rhymes with “Killadelphia.”)

Hilariously, that was the same month he also backed a bill to give counties more control over the makeup and responsibilities of their local row offices. Apparently when it comes to decisions about the structure of a local bureaucracy, local officials are better suited than Harrisburg or state law in deciding how to proceed.

“These decisions,” he said then, “are best made at the local level.”

When it comes to life-and-death decisions about who should be able to carry deadly weaponry on our streets, however, it’s Alloway’s contention that the decisions are best made … one county over.

So I’d like to offer Alloway a deal. Sure, his proposal should pass, and the city of Philadelphia should lose control over the permitting process within its own city limits — just so long as the costs of every wrongful death investigation involving a firearm permitted by an adjacent sheriff has to come out of that sheriff’s budget. If Philadelphia didn’t permit the gun used in a murder, Philadelphia simply bills the neighbor for the cost of the investigation, overtime, and the rest.

It can be quite expensive.

If Alloway is convinced that concealed guns really are a safety measure — that gun owners really are responsible — such a condition shouldn’t bother him. He should embrace it as a measure of pairing responsibility with power.

If he doesn’t, well, it’ll just prove that Alloway is more interested in gun rights than he is in Philadelphians. Which wouldn’t be a surprise. After all: He lives 159 miles away. He doesn’t have to live with the results.