The Philadelphia Daily News interviews nine men the city's police department has arrested for carrying guns, even though all nine were carrying legally.
Eight of the men said that they were detained by police – two for 18 hours each. Two were hospitalized for diabetic issues while in custody, one of whom was handcuffed to a bed. Charges were filed against three of the men, only to be withdrawn by the District Attorney's Office.
The civil-rights unit of the City Solicitor's Office confirmed that it is handling eight such cases. Two of the men interviewed by the Daily News said that they rejected settlement offers from the city ranging from $3,500 to $7,500. One accepted a $5,000 offer.
Most of the cases hinge on what local authorities call the "Florida loophole," under which a Pennsylvania resident can obtain a nonresident permit to carry a concealed weapon through the mail from another state, even without a permit in Pennsylvania.
The "loophole" is unpopular with Philadelphia cops, who say that it allows those denied a permit here or whose permits were revoked to circumvent Philadelphia authorities and obtain it elsewhere.
But proponents say that it's necessary because Philadelphia has unusually strict criteria for obtaining a concealed-carry permit. Philadelphia, according to police and gun owners, relies heavily on a clause that allows denial of a permit based on "character and reputation" alone.
Agree or disagree with the law, it is the law, which the police are sworn to uphold. Some police officers in Philadelphia apparently feel they can simply ignore it. The department brass doesn't seem particularly concerned.
Despite following the law, all of the men said that they were treated like criminals by city cops who either ignored their rights or didn't know the laws.
Lt. Fran Healy, special adviser to the police commissioner, acknowledged that some city cops apparently are unfamiliar with some concealed-carry permits. But he said that it's better for cops to "err on the side of caution."
"Officers' safety comes first, and not infringing on people's rights comes second," Healy said.
It doesn't get much more succinct than that.