October 23, 2017 — In the wake of the National Rifle Association’s latest call for Congress to pass federally mandated concealed carry, issued just weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, applauded New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for standing up to the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda and urging Congress to reject concealed carry reciprocity.
In a letter released today the Attorneys General expressed grave concerns regarding federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity, which would establish a “weakest link”scenario by forcing the weakest concealed carry laws to become law of the land – undermining state and national standards instead of creating them.
“In the shadow of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, our leaders in Congress should be focused on taking action to prevent future acts of gun violence, not working to move forward bills that weaken gun safety laws and make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “Make no mistake, Concealed Carry Reciprocity is a dangerous proposal and I applaud these Attorneys General for demanding that lawmakers defeat this bill and making public safety the top priority.”
“While it’s absolutely astounding that just days after the worst shooting in modern American history, the National Rifle Association is working to pass federally mandated concealed carry, it’s encouraging to see so many Attorneys General from states across the country speaking out and standing up to the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director at Giffords. “Federally mandated concealed carry is both an assault on states’ rights and an attack on police. As chief law enforcement officers, these Attorneys General understand the serious, adverse consequences that federally mandated concealed carry, absent training or a strong national standard, would have on public safety. We applaud these Attorneys General for having the courage to urge their leaders in Congress to listen to law enforcement and reject federally mandated concealed carry.”
The letter’s signatories include: Attorneys General Eric Schneiderman (NY), Maura Healey (MA), Xavier Becerra (CA), Josh Shapiro (PA), Ellen Rosenblum (OR), Mark Herring (VA), Peter Kilmartin (RI), Karl Racine (DC), Matt Denn (DE), Thomas Miller (IA), Douglas Chin (HI), Lisa Madigan (IL), Brian Frosh (MD), George Jepsen (CT), Hector Balderas (NM), Josh Stein (NC), Bob Ferguson (WA).
Addressed to both Senate and House leadership, the letter reads:
“We, the undersigned 17 Attorneys General, strongly oppose the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (S. 446) and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38). With the worst shooting in American history fresh in our memory, we urge you and your colleagues to reject these ill-conceived bills that would override local public safety decisions and endanger our communities and law enforcement officers.”
“Federally mandated concealed carry would create a race to the bottom where permits from states with weak laws will become valid in states with strong laws. This extreme proposal not only puts our communities in danger, it makes it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The Giffords Law Center stands ready to assist these attorneys general and any states across the country that are rightfully concerned about the extreme dangers federally mandated concealed carry would have on public safety.”
ABOUT CONCEALED CARRY RECIPROCITY
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 establishes a “weakest link” scenario by forcing the weakest concealed carry laws to become law of the land – undermining state and national standards instead of creating them.
Erodes States’ Rights: Right now, each state has the right to determine which concealed carry permits from other states they choose to recognize. This is critical as requirements for obtaining a permit vary significantly among states. Currently there are twelve states that do not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Without a permit system, there is no way for a law enforcement officer to determine who is lawfully carrying a weapon. States with high standards for carrying a concealed weapon would have to allow people from states without permits to carry weapons in their state, even if they would otherwise be prohibited in that state.
Dangerous for Law Enforcement: Law enforcement groups overwhelmingly oppose federally mandated concealed carry because it would put them in a confusing and dangerous position. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez argues that officers cannot “effectively do their jobs and ensure public safety” under this bill because there is no way for them to verify that someone is carrying lawfully. Federally mandated concealed carry essentially requires law enforcement to know the permitting standards of every state, a heavy and unnecessary burden. Most alarmingly, the bill in the House of Representatives goes so far as to open up law enforcement to the threat of personal litigation. If a law enforcement officer mistakenly questions a person’s legal authority to carry a concealed firearm, they can be sued, personally. This could have a chilling effect on law enforcement who would fear conducting a thorough investigation and enforcing our laws — two of the core responsibilities as guardians of public safety.
Gun Owners Support Requiring Permits to Carry: Federally mandated concealed carry legislation would undermine current concealed carry laws and enable states where anyone’s allowed to carry to carry concealed firearms across the country. Recent polling found that nearly 9 out of 10 American gun owners – about 88 percent – support laws requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun. With these figures, it’s no wonder that 67 percent of gun owners believe the NRA has been taken over by the Washington gun lobby and special interests, and 50 percent believe the organization no longer represents them.
Law Enforcement Officers Speak out against Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey: “Lawmakers must have the courage to oppose concealed-carry proposal” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus: “In the past decade, over 500 police officers have been killed in the line of duty by guns. Federally mandated concealed carry and the deregulation of silencers will increase those numbers” (Arizona Daily Star)
Retired Detective Sergeant and Montana Gun Owner Judith Heilman: “We Montanans have a rich history of pragmatism and responsible gun ownership. As a gun owner and law enforcement veteran, I feel an obligation to stand up and speak out about the dangers concealed carry and the deregulation of silencers would have on Montana’s communities and every person therein” ([Billings Gazette)
How Concealed Carry Reciprocity will Impact States
To illustrate how this bill will impact specific states – Giffords, formerly Americans for Responsible Solutions, released a series of state fact sheets that show how the bill would weaken each state’s current laws if enacted. The state examples we selected are places where we feel voters need to be especially aware of this legislation and engaged in pushing back to make sure it doesn’t pass.
Additional CCR Resources