Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement in front of the House Rules Committee against H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.
After the House Judiciary Committee approved the NRA-backed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act along party lines last week, the Republican-controlled Rules Committee cynically attached to it the bipartisan Fix NICS Act, a measure that would take steps to address shortcomings with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This legislative maneuver is intended to force House Democrats to vote against bipartisan legislation to improve the NICS System because it has been made a part of a bill that law enforcement, gun control advocates, and victims have all decried as a dangerous threat to public safety.
Below is Ranking Member Nadler’s full comments, as prepared, for the House Rules Committee:
“I appear today in opposition to H.R. 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” because this bill would not protect us from gun violence, but would instead make us far less safe.
“Under current law, each state makes its own determination about who may carry a concealed firearm in public, including deciding which other states’ concealed carry permits to recognize.
“This bill would eviscerate the core public safety determinations that each state makes concerning the concealed carrying of guns in public, based on the unique circumstances in each state and the desires of its citizens.
“In fact, the standards and requirements adopted in the states vary dramatically:
- Thirty-one states and DC require gun safety training to carry concealed guns in public, and 21 of those states require live fire training.
- Twenty-seven states and DC prohibit individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence from concealed carry.
- Twenty-eight states and DC prohibit convicted stalkers from carrying concealed guns.
- Thirty-four states and DC prohibit those under 21 years of age from carrying concealed guns.
- Many states prohibit gun possession and concealed carry by abusive dating partners, exceeding federal protections against abusive spouses.
“All of these states would have their carefully-considered laws governing concealed carry overridden by this amendment.
“The obvious solution to the varying state laws is to continue to do what is currently done by many states, which is to choose which other state permits they will recognize. Some states, including my state of New York, have chosen not to recognize permits issued by any other state. Most states, however, have chosen to recognize permits from at least some other states – basing the choice on the strength of the standards employed by the other states. We should not disregard these determinations, which is what this bill would do.
“Although I oppose the concealed carry reciprocity provisions of this bill, I submitted an amendment to this Committee to address one of the concerns I just mentioned. More than half the states recognize that individuals guilty of violent misdemeanors, although not as serious as felonies, have a greater propensity for future criminal activity and therefore will not allow them to carry concealed guns. My amendment would prevent the bill from forcing these states to recognize the concealed carry permits of states that do not have such prohibitions.
“I do not believe we should consider this bill on the floor without consideration of my amendment, and allowing floor debate on the many others that my colleagues have submitted to address similar, serious flaws with the bill.
“In addition, I am deeply disappointed that the version of the bill before the Rules Committee today includes the bipartisan Fix NICS Act, a measure that should be enacted as a standalone bill without delay. That bill would take steps to address shortcomings with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or what we often call the “NICS.”
“As the recent mass shooting at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas illustrates, we must do more to ensure all relevant prohibiting records are submitted to the databases that comprise the NICS.
“No one should pass a firearms background check that he or she should have failed simply because their record of a felony conviction or domestic violence record, or some other prohibition under federal law, was not included in the system. There is broad bipartisan support for the Fix NICS bill here in the House and in the Senate. That proposal, which actually would save lives, should not be tethered to the forced concealed carry reciprocity provisions of H.R. 38, which would only serve to endanger our citizens.
“Unfortunately, the harms of the concealed carry reciprocity portion of the bill being taken to the floor outweigh the benefits of the NICS improvements. Therefore, I oppose the combined bill and urge the Committee to reject it.
“However, that does not mean that the many thoughtful and substantive amendments that I and my colleagues have submitted to address the concealed carry provisions should not be considered on the floor. I therefore ask that they be made in order so that we may debate this critical public policy issue in a comprehensive manner.”