HARRISBURG (TNS) — Seven in 10 Pennsylvania voters oppose eliminating the state license requirement to carry a concealed weapon, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll.
Among them are Lawrence County resident Coleen Myers, 65, who doesn’t like anyone carrying a concealed weapon, and Joseph McCall, 36, of Philadelphia, who sees it as a security check.
“I just think there should be a level of oversight and assurance by the state that people who have that privilege can prove they can exercise the minimum security requirements and the responsibility to do so safely. said McCall, who was among 490 registered voters who took part in the F&M survey which covered a host of topics.
The survey results on concealed carry permits run counter to the views of a majority of Pennsylvania state lawmakers. In November, the General Assembly introduced a bill to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk to waive the requirement to obtain a special permit every five years to carry a concealed weapon on one’s person or in a car.
Wolf vetoed the bill, calling it “harmful legislation that puts public safety at risk.”
Sen. Cris Dush, R-Brookville, who sponsored the bill that couldn’t get enough votes to override the governor’s veto, said he didn’t expect the results drawn by the poll question.
Opposition fell to 56% strongly opposed and 14% somewhat opposed to ending a requirement that has been enshrined in one form or another in Pennsylvania since the 1930s. The current requirement has been in place since 1988.
“Honestly, the legislature does a pretty good job of reflecting the will of the people, so the poll results really surprise me,” Dush said. “If it was among the people who are active within the community who carry hidden, I know the feeling [to constitutional, or permit-less, carry] is strong enough.
Sixty-one percent of those polled said they did not own guns and 50% favored more laws regulating gun ownership.
The carry without a license survey question was phrased as follows: “The State House approved a bill in 2021 that would allow all handgun owners to carry a concealed weapon on their person or in a car without the need for a concealed carry permit, which would end a long-standing state requirement.Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the elimination of concealed carry licenses in the ‘State ? “
Val Finnell, Pennsylvania director of Gun Owners of America, took issue with the words “longstanding state requirement” in the question.
“It’s worded in such a way that it might lead more people to oppose the constitutional postponement,” he said. “But I think after educating people on the issue, you’ve really let them know what it’s all about, I think you’ll get a different answer.”
He pointed out that 21 states have passed constitutional, or unlicensed, laws “and there’s really been no problem with that.”
The concealed carry law essentially turns the constitutional right to keep and carry guns into a $20 fee paid to the sheriff to conduct a background check, Finnell said. The fallacy for those who support the requirement is that it will prevent criminals from breaking the law, he said.
“They already intend to break the law,” he said. “Licensing requirements are not going to prevent that.”
He called concealed carry permits “an additional annoying hurdle for legitimate gun owners.”
But 61-year-old Allegheny County resident Joseph Mosko was unconvinced of that.
“I think we should take out the Second Amendment,” said Mosko, one of the poll respondents. “I don’t think people should carry guns. That’s what the police are for. People don’t need to carry guns.
Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFirePA, an organization that fights to end gun violence, said the poll results are consistent with what his organization has learned.
“I’ve heard gun owners, Republicans, law enforcement say they all think letting people carry concealed guns without any checks is a dangerous idea,” Garber said. . “Most Pennsylvanians — whether or not they own a gun and want one or not — think reasonable safeguards should exist.”
He said law enforcement in particular welcomes the requirement because it helps them know in advance what to expect if they stop a vehicle or are called to the scene by checking to see if a person involved has a concealed carry permit.
Robert Lohr, 38, of Berks County, was another poll participant opposed to portering without a license.
“I fully believe in supporting the Second Amendment, but I temper the fact that not everyone should have a gun because clearly there are some people who shouldn’t have access to a gun,” a- he declared. “So when you remove the step of getting a concealed carry permit, it opens the door a bit for more people concealing a firearm who probably shouldn’t have it in the first place.”
Myers agreed that people who have guns and want to carry them concealed “should be monitored.” She said she would support more frequent background checks of those wishing to carry a concealed weapon than the current five years.
Josiah Wenger, 29, of Franklin County, a firearm owner whose concealed carry license has expired, said his preference would be a federal pass without a license.
“I’m a contractor, so if I’m working in Maryland, I have to have my gun in all kinds of different rooms and locked in there,” he said. “In Pennsylvania, you don’t have to. So it should be in all 50 states, once you get it in Pennsylvania you should be able to go anywhere.
As Robert Stevenson of Montgomery County sees it, clearance should be a done deal once and for all. Gun owners should be allowed to apply for a concealed carry permit when purchasing their firearm, even if it requires an additional fee, rather than having to go through the application process at the sheriff’s office every five years.
“The government is still getting its revenue and you’re cutting out the middlemen,” he said. “I’m all for abolishing this law or adapting it to what I said.”
The survey was conducted between February 21 and 27. Voters polled included 223 Democrats, 200 Republicans and 67 independents. The survey has a margin of error of 6.1 percentage points.