The Sept. 12 shooting death of an 18-year-old youth in Olney has reignited a political debate between the two men who are vying to be the state's next governor about how permits for concealed weapons should be issued.
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, the Democratic nominee, claims that state Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Republican nominee, could use the power of his office to close what is known as the "Florida loophole."
Corbett's campaign yesterday accused Onorato of not understanding state gun laws and exploiting the death of Irving Santana for political purposes.
Philadelphia police say Marqus Hill, 28, fired 13 times at Santana as the unarmed teen was breaking into Hill's car.
Hill's state permit to carry a concealed weapon was revoked in 2005, after he was charged with attempted murder. Hill reapplied for a state permit, but his request was denied in 2008.
Hill then applied for and was granted a concealed-weapon permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Onorato, in a repeat of a news conference he held three months ago at City Hall, yesterday stood with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and demanded that Corbett end the reciprocity of gun permits with Florida.
"This is a real problem in Pennsylvania," Onorato said. "Tom Corbett is running for governor. If he thinks this was just a 30-second sound-bite in June, then he has another think coming."
Corbett's campaign in June derided the loophole issue as a "solution in search of a problem" and said Onorato could not point to a serious crime having been committed by a Pennsylvanian with a Florida permit.
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley yesterday said state law would still require that Florida permits be recognized here even if the Attorney General's Office ended the reciprocity agreement with Florida.
State law says Pennsylvania must recognize a gun permit issued by a state such as Florida with equal or more stringent requirements as this state, Harley added.
"This is what voters have come to expect from career politician Dan Onorato," Harley said. "He exploits the death of young man and uses it as a political prop. The fact is the attorney general cannot unilaterally change the laws of Pennsylvania. Only the Legislature can do that."
State Rep. Bryan Lentz, a Delaware County Democrat, has a bill pending in the House to change that law. Onorato has said he supports that legislation.