Statement of Ranking Member Nadler for the Markup of H.R. 2561, the "POLICE Act"

May 17, 2018 Issues: Law Enforcement

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following opening remarks during the Committee markup of  H.R. 2561, the “POLICE Act.”

"Mr. Chairman, certainly we must assist our law enforcement officers, who work long hours under stressful and dangerous conditions to protect all of us.  However, I cannot support the bill before us today.

"H.R. 2561, the “POLICE Act,” would allow uniformed law enforcement officers to carry agency-issued firearms into certain federal facilities that are low-security and open to the public.  While there may be some merit to this proposal, there may also be great risks.  This Committee has held no hearings about the need for this bill, and it would be unwise to move forward without a greater understanding of the potential benefits and potential dangers that may result from this legislation.

"I understand that the bill is intended to make it easier for police officers to conduct non-official, personal tasks, such as visiting a VA hospital or Social Security office, while in uniform.  However, we should learn more about the problem, possible ways to address it, and the implications of enacting this bill, as is. 

"For instance, the bill would allow any uniformed officer from any jurisdiction to carry a loaded firearm or “other dangerous weapons” into certain federal facilities.  This would place an enormous burden on security guards at federal facilities, who would have to recognize the uniforms of law enforcement agencies from any jurisdiction in the United States.   This could also facilitate the ability of armed individuals impersonating private security guards to gain access to these facilities. 

"Given the potential risks presented by this legislation and the lack of any documented need for it, there is no reason to rush the bill through the legislative process without the benefit of a hearing where we could  consider its merits and any possible concerns or necessary changes.  We should consult with law enforcement, the General Services Administration, and gun violence prevention experts, among others, to evaluate this proposal.  H.R. 2561 may be well-intentioned, but it raises questions that should be addressed before the Committee adopts it and reports it for floor consideration. 

"In addition, I must note that as we, once again, consider legislation to loosen restrictions on gun possession, we continue to take no action to address the nationwide epidemic of gun violence.  More than 35,000 Americans lose their life to gun violence each year, while in some other countries this figure barely cracks 100.  We cannot allow this to continue.  I urge the Committee to hold hearings and to adopt legislation that will make us all safer without further delay. 

"I yield back the balance of my time."

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