WASHINGTON -- Just hours after Gabby Giffords spoke publicly for the first time and shared her painful but remarkable story of recovery from being shot in the head, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would force states to allow dangerous, violent and untrained gun owners from out-of-state to carry loaded, hidden guns in virtually every state.
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 822, is the first major gun bill taken up and passed by the House since the January 8 Tucson shootings and is an affront to victims of gun violence everywhere, especially those who have lost their lives and been wounded since the Tucson tragedy. The bill the Brady Campaign has named the “Packing Heat on Your Street Act,” passed despite concerns about overriding states’ rights from moderate Democrats and some Republicans.
The battle over the legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate.
“This legislation is so dangerous that it would trample a state’s ability to set its own rules and training requirements concerning who carries loaded, hidden guns in public and override basic state possession laws setting minimum age limits to possess handguns,” said Dennis Henigan, Acting President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s deplorable that the first major gun legislation passed by a house of Congress since the Tucson shootings is one that would make it easier for the Jared Loughners of the world to pack heat on our streets and in our communities. It’s deplorable that they did this so soon after Gabby Giffords shared her remarkable and moving comeback story. She and all gun violence victims deserve better from Congress.”
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Under H.R. 822, people with violent arrest records and gun owners with no training could be granted a concealed gun permit in one state and carry in almost any other state. Local law enforcement officials would be powerless to stop it.
National and state law enforcement organizations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Major Cities Chiefs Association, strongly oppose the measure because more loaded, hidden guns in more communities will undermine public safety. So do 34 national faith-based organizations that make up the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence coalition.
The Brady Campaign and other gun violence prevention groups have warned that H.R. 822 is an even more dangerous bill than when it was originally proposed, thanks to an amendment sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) that passed the House Judiciary Committee in October. The amendment overrides a state’s authority to enforce its basic limitations on gun possession on concealed carriers from other states even if they are ineligible to possess a handgun in the state where the carrying occurs.
For example, under Tennessee law, Tennessee residents with concealed weapons permits may be prosecuted for violating the state’s law forbidding handgun possession by people “while under the influence of alcohol.”
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Under the version of H.R. 822 that has now passed the House, this same prohibition would be unenforceable against someone with a concealed carry permit from another state who is caught with a gun in Tennessee while intoxicated. The prospect of a concealed weapon permit holder being arrested while armed and intoxicated is hardly fanciful, since the state legislator who championed Tennessee’s law allowing guns in bars was arrested recently for possessing a handgun while under the influence.
“We’re now calling on the Senate to consider the serious implications of supporting such a law.” Henigan said. “The American people are counting on you to keep their families and communities safe from gun violence.”
The Brady Campaign has identified three key reasons that the “Packing Heat on Your Street Act” would undermine the safety of American women, children, men, and our communities.
The legislation would override state laws, forcing states that have tight restrictions on who can get concealed weapon permits, such as New York and California, to allow gun-toting people from states, such as Florida, which repeatedly have given dangerous people licenses to carry.
The legislation forces states to allow untrained, out-of-state visitors to carry loaded, hidden guns, even though studies repeatedly have shown that laws making it easy to carry concealed guns do not reduce crime, and, if anything, increase violent crime.
The legislation forces states to allow out-of-state permits, even though state concealed weapon licensing systems operate under different rules, apply widely varying standards, ultimately endangering law enforcement officers and the general public.