“Mr. Chairman, I strongly oppose the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” and I am disappointed that this legislation is before us today.
“The level of gun violence in our country is astounding and unacceptable. Our gun violence problem is much more than the periodic, but all-too-frequent, horror of mass shootings. Every day in America, on average, 32 people are murdered with a firearm and 164 people are shot in an attack and survive. We must summon the will in Congress to close loopholes and to address the weaknesses in our patchwork of gun laws.
“Instead, this bill dangerously takes us in the opposite direction. This bill would overrule restrictions on the concealed carrying of firearms that states have carefully crafted to make this practice safer, based on the needs and circumstances in each state. I will explain more fully the dangers this bill presents when we discuss the substitute amendment, to be considered shortly, but suffice it to say that public safety would suffer if we were to unwisely adopt this legislation.
“I want to emphasize that this bill is not about protecting Second Amendment rights. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment to be an individual right unconnected with service in a militia, and has held that individuals may use firearms for traditionally lawful purposes. However, even Justice Scalia, in delivering the opinion of the Court in the District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, recognized that the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.
“In fact, in discussing lawful restrictions on firearms, he specifically recognized the tradition of courts in holding that “prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.”
“This bill, in overriding the ability of states to restrict concealed carry by non-state residents, runs counter to the traditional ability of states to enforce such restrictions in order to make their citizens safer while still respecting the Second Amendment, and it shakes the underpinnings of public firearms safety laws.
“By discarding the concealed carry restrictions enacted by the majority of states, the bill will only endanger the citizens of the states whose laws will be overruled. While it is currently up to each state to determine whether it will allow concealed carry, and under what conditions, we know that expansive concealed carry permitting laws are linked to an increase in violent crime.
“A 2017 study by researchers at Stanford University found that, 10 years after enacting permissive concealed carry laws, states experienced a 13 percent to 15 percent rise in violent crimes. This study shows that undermining strong state restrictions on concealed carry, as this bill would do, would jeopardize public safety in the states into which individuals carrying handguns under permissive laws will travel.
“This legislation is terrible public policy, and it caters to some of the worst themes of our current public discourse, particularly at a time when some national leaders are fomenting division in our communities.
“Just two weeks ago, the FBI disclosed that hate crimes are on the rise in our country, and recently this Committee adopted a bill to strengthen our laws against violence intended to interfere with the free exercise of religion – largely to respond to recent bomb threats and vandalism against Jewish Community Centers. This is not the time to encourage the interstate carrying of loaded, concealed guns in violation of the restrictions many of our states adopted specifically to reduce the likelihood of violence by those carrying concealed guns.
“At our core, I know that our nation is much better than this, and it is up to us in Congress to do much better than this. That is why I urge my colleagues to reject this bill and to engage in a serious effort to strengthen our gun laws, which will actually make us safer.
“I yield back the balance of my time.”