Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Philly LTCF renewal pickup – A mostly non-negative experience!

    I recently picked up my LTCF renewal.

    Caveat:
    -My renewal app was squeaky clean
    -I had applied over 60 days ago, did not receive a renewal card
    -My LTCF had recently expired (due to the 60+ day wait after I submitted my app).
    -By "mostly non-negative", I mean both in comparison to my renewal 5 years ago and my November visit to apply for the renewal.

    1. Staff on the 2nd floor made potentially helpful announcements to people waiting in a friendly tone.

    2. Staff set up extra chairs outside their second floor office to allow for overflow (there seems to be a fair amount of volume - by 9AM 20-25+ people had showed up). My guess is that between new applicants, renewals, and people hoping to pick up their LTCF, 120 people show up a day this time of year (recent statements by Obama + the random stabbings in Center City last month + the recent ISIS follower incidents may have all served to boost numbers a bit) . If they just mailed out LTCF when processed and processed in 45 days or less, they could probably cut the daily in-person volume to about half.

    3. Although I (and presumably virtually everyone else on the pick-up permit/check permit status) was undoubtedly materially over the 45 day legal limit, people wanting to "check status" were given a choice via announcement to all people in the waiting area - either wait for an approval letter or wait in the office for processing. Zero people chose the come-back option. Issuance of LTCF cards to people who chose for the "wait for processing" option started a bit before 9AM. I assume this is, in part, an attempt to roughly comply with certain elements from the 2014 court settlement.

    4. Staff working on processing apps and similar on this visit actually seemed to try to treat people waiting as human beings (vs pseudo-criminals). Actually, possibly just a touch above the service Philadelphians are used to at the Comcast service center on Delaware (from the pre-2016 bullet resistant glass/treat everyone as a suspect era – FYI only the glass has come down sometime in 2015 and in-person service there has, similarly, seen improvement and is currently a fair number of notches above current PPD "customer service"). Note: I still refer to Comcast (excluding the in-person install staff and line maintenance staff - who, IMHO generally do a fine job) as “Satan’s incompetent little helper”, and the Gun Permits Unit still has a way to go, but kudos to whomever (perhaps new Philadelphia Police Commissioner Ross) who seems to have started to try to improve things – unless what I experienced this visit was just sheer luck and not the norm.

    5. As usual for me, I used the no-time-limit $5 lot that is two blocks past the Gun Permit Unit lot (turn on Spring Garden, keep going by the can't-park-there lot of the building in the back/Gun Permits Unit, and just keep going two blocks). Worth it as it means you do not have to really worry about exact wait time or meters.

    6. Seems that the first few people show up about 7:50. As people sign the “guest book” in the lobby, they get a number in the lobby (via which they will be let up in lots by the elevator). By 8:10AM, about 8 people were there (mix of apps and status-checks, including one guy who told me that he believed that had applied in September and had been checking with the mail man since then). By 8:30, there were 15+. As processing is not all that fast, you can actually save time (and help ensure that you will be at work at a not-later-than-a-9AMish dentist appointment or similar) if you show up by 8AM.

    7. There is what seems to be a new sheet they have people picking up LTCF sign. Effectively a certification that you have not been convicted of anything since you put in your app and also asking if there was “anything else you would like to make the Gun Permits Unit aware of”. See attached. While I do not agree with all the legal statements made in the new PA statement of laws and such provided to individuals issued a LTCF, it is FAR better than the prior versions (which, IMHO opinion, were sort of insano on various points).

    Hope the Philadelphia Gun Permits Unit continues to improve – there does seem to be at least a change of official tone since late 2015 when I put in my renewal app. Now, if they would send approval/denial letters in 45 days or less – as required by law and the 2014 court settlement, start mailing LTCF when issued rather than requiring a return visit (or better yet, issuing while you wait), and consider dropping the fingerprinting that is not part of PA LTCF law (i.e. acting like most other PA counties), it would be great, but what I experienced today was still a very material improvement over past visits.

    Some easy changes for commissioner Ross to consider:
    A. Take the photo at the time of initial permitting visit and MAIL out LTCF when processed (assuming the app is complete and the decision is a clear “yes” without the need for any additional questions). It would make EVERY applicant’s life significantly easier not to have to block out a bunch of hours during the work week for the “pick up” visit.

    With that said, if the photo was taken during the initial visit (when each applicant hands in his/her apps, answers about 5 or more minutes of oral questions, and gets fingerprinted), there would be no possible need for the cost and expense of obtaining/supplying a passport photo (that, as per staff, MUST be printed on photo type paper). Mailing out LTCF when issued would reduce staff workload by perhaps 25%+ and save every applicant an average of better than three hours during a workweek (preparing for a visit, traveling to Spring Garden and parking at a lot or using a meter, waiting to be called, processing time, picking up their car and driving back to work). For people who have to rely on a taxi or public transportation (say the elderly), I assume visit 2 takes them an average of 5 hours all in. If you live and work on the perimeter of Philadelphia County, I am sure visit #2 (all in) takes a fair amount longer. This should not cost the City $1 extra (as the same stamp and envelope that would be used to send an applicant his/her notice of approval, assuming the Gun Permits Unit actually sent out such notices within the 45 day legal limit, would just have an additional item in it – the actual LTCF card).

    B. Have the Gun Permits Unit again be willing/able to answer status questions on the phone (at least after the 45 day law-and-court-settlement-says-must-approve-or-deny-app mark). Or at least change procedure so the Gun Permits Unit can/will call you back using the phone number listed on your LTCF app (and I am sure in their system). Or via e-mail. If the City feels that this would somehow be contrary to confidentiality requirements, have applicant’s agree to same via an addendum to the LTCF app – for this limited purpose, I would assume 100% would be happy to agree.

    C. Also, FYI, not allowing bank checks (only money orders) is a bit nuts. Hell, if the goal is, possibly, that the GPU not handle cash (vs just making things that little bit more difficult for the applicant), allow personal checks but note that all applicants will be charged a fee if their check is not honored and if the check is not good their app will not be processed.

    While I believe Constitutional Carry is, legally the way to go, if the PPD could act on A, B and C, they could make the process nearly 1/3 less staff-intensive on their end and reduce the no-benefit-for-anyone time spent for a LTCF issuance by an applicant near 50%. With no downside (vs the current process) for either the PPD or the applicants (although with the process being a bit more streamlined and lines a bit shorter, apps might go up 5-10% ).
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: Philly LTCF renewal pickup – A mostly non-negative experience!

    So they're still requiring fingerprints? I've put off getting my LTCF for a while because of that. I have my prints done for work but it's not a requirement according to the UFA but philly is still not accepting apps if you don't get prints done? Is that right?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: Philly LTCF renewal pickup – A mostly non-negative experience!

    You could try, but are very unlikely to be processed without prints (which they did to me on visit 1 - the app visit, rather than the pick-up visit when the did the photo).

    At least this time my prints fully matched their records. 5 years ago, I was told that at least one of my fingers did not fully match their records from my original LTCF issuance (I told the woman that she personally did my prints lat time and that was the end of that). This time, the electronic machine was listing a percentage score as to how "good" a given print was - they do each finger independently and then the fingers of the whole hand - anything over 90% seems to be "good" - less they redo that finger (sometime more than once).

    I let this one go without argument, as my prints are also with other governmental bodies (nothing bad) and are thus probably in the FBI database anyway.

    Also, nothing you can do about the photo either (now a state standard) and I bet they are doing facial recognition on that too for various databases - as the DMV also does ( http://articles.philly.com/2013-04-1...aw-enforcement - ""There are a lot of possibilities," he said, not all crime-related. Last year, for instance, a photo album was found on the side of a road in Lehigh County and turned over to police. The album was filled with pictures from a family's Disney vacation. An officer, fearing no one would know where to look for it, scanned a photograph and sent it to the state police. 'Within minutes, we'd ID'd the owner from the license database,' Ashmar said. 'It turned out they had been in the process of moving, and someone left it on the roof of the car. They were glad to get it back!'"). My guess - the photos from the DMV and LTCF are also used to ID people in peaceful protests, if that matters to you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: Philly LTCF renewal pickup – A mostly non-negative experience!

    Thanks for the input! I do contract work for the gov so I have prints done and need a clean background but I stand by principal. If it's not mandated by the state I don't see why I should comply to some unlawful request. I'll give it w shot sooner or later. I figured w the threat of lawsuits now that the PPD would have to eat the cost of they would back off the things like prints and asking about tattoos, etc.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    "The Country", Pennsylvania
    (Chester County)
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    Default Re: Philly LTCF renewal pickup – A mostly non-negative experience!

    They do your fingerprinting there.
    "I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery." - Thomas Jefferson

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