WASHINGTON – From Tucson, Arizona to Orange Park, Florida and points in between. From men who shoot little girls and members of Congress to men who kill cops and wipe out their entire families, including a pregnant sister, on Thanksgiving Day. Dangerous people are getting licenses to kill and a new bill in Congress will only make it easier for them to carry their loaded, hidden guns on more streets in more communities.
The Brady Campaign is fighting against allowing dangerous concealed carry license holders to carry their guns in communities across the nation by calling on all Americans to contact their members of Congress to say no to the so-called National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, H.R. 822, sponsored by Congressmen Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Schuler (D-NC). The bill should be renamed the “Packing Heat on Your Street Act.” A hearing on the bill was held on September 13 in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
America’s largest grassroots gun control organization released a report with profiles of some of the worst concealed carry killers, along with three who face murder charges, including the notorious Tucson shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. Also featured are Paul Michael Merhige, who is charged with killing four family members on Thanksgiving in 2009, and Marqus Hill, who had had his license revoked but got it back and is charged with shooting a man 13 times, killing him.
The report, request for help, and campaign are part of a nationwide effort by the Brady Campaign, other gun violence prevention groups and their allies, including leaders from dozens of faith groups, to stop the “Packing Heat on Your Street Act” from advancing in Congress. A similarly reckless bill, sponsored by Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, was defeated by a similar national mobilization effort in 2009.
“We urge the American people to say no to giving licenses to kill to violent people, who are waiting for opportunities to unleash their firepower on strangers, public servants, and loved ones alike,” said Dennis Henigan, Acting President of the Brady Campaign. “We must say no to federal legislation that would nullify the public safety protections states have chosen to impose on concealed carrying of weapons. This reckless legislation was defeated two years ago and we are determined to do it again, with the help of the American people.”
The Brady Campaign has identified three key reasons that the “Packing Heat on Your Street Act” would undermine the safety of American women, children, and men, and our communities.
1) 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 in concealed carry gun-toting people from states, such as Florida, which repeatedly have given dangerous people licenses to carry.
2) 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. Indeed, "[t]he weight of the evidence is now firmly behind those who have found that right-to-carry [shall-issue] laws do not reduce, and may even increase, the overall level of crime,” according to a recent study by Stanford Economist John J. Donohue.
3) 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. Surveys have found that license holders have received permits to carry without proper background checks or training, resulting in the granting of licenses to dangerous people who commit violent acts with their guns.
“The recent multiple shooting in Carson City, Nevada, occurred despite the presence of an armed citizen. So did the mass shooting in Tucson,” said Henigan. “The solution to gun violence is not more guns on our streets. For many years, states with weak laws have been licensing dangerous people to carry concealed and loaded handguns. Congress should not be in the business of forcing communities across the nation to allow these dangerous people to carry loaded and hidden handguns on their streets. The 'Packing Heat on Your Street Act' must be rejected as a dangerous invasion of state prerogatives to protect public safety.”
Brady Campaign officials acknowledge the research of the Violence Policy Center on Concealed Carry Killers. Their publication, Concealed Carry Killers, aided us in preparing this report. For more information about the Violence Policy Center, see http://www.vpc.org.