The John Thune (R-SD) David Vitter (R-LA) amendment to ensure reciprocity between states that recognize Right-To-Carry, which was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, just missed the cut by a measly two votes in the U.S. Senate earlier this week.
To date thirty seven states have reciprocity agreements with at least one other state and several states honor all out-of-state concealed carry permits.
Two states, Illinois and Wisconsin and Washington DC forbid all manner of concealed carry. Alaska and that bastion of liberalism Vermont, have no requirements whatsoever to carry a concealed weapon as long as the person has the legal right to own a firearm. Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nebraska all permit unlicensed open carry for those legally able to own a firearm, subject to county and municipal restrictions, but you may attract the attention of every cop within miles if you chose to exercise that right.
Several Senate Democrats spoke out against the Thune-Vitter amendment saying that the measure violated states rights by forcing some states with very stringent regulations (read making people jump through a series of ridiculous hoops in order to get one) for concealed carry permits to recognize CCW holders from states that issue permits based on somewhat more relaxed requirements but which must still meet the basic federal standards. Hey, wait a minute, since when did Democrats ever concern themselves with the Bill of Rights’ Tenth Amendment?
Thune’s amendment was very simple. If someone legally acquires a firearm under federal law and a concealed weapons permit under their state laws then they will be able to travel and carry to any other state that has a concealed carry provision. If a state does not allow its citizens to carry a concealed weapon then people traveling to this state from out of state would NOT be able to carry a concealed weapon.
The amendment was in no way going to change any state laws or force states without them to enact concealed carry legislation but that didn’t stop some hysterical anti gun Democrats from deliberately mischaracterizing the Thune amendment.
Democrats like Illinois Senator Dick (yes he is) Durban:
Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the Thune amendment. The Senator from South Dakota tells us this is a very simple amendment. He tells us his amendment is consistent with self-defense and the reduction of crime. What the Senator from South Dakota cannot explain is why 400 mayors, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, and the bipartisan association known as State Legislators Against Illegal Guns oppose this so-called very simple amendment.
Here is why they oppose it. The Thune amendment provides that if a State gives a person a permit to carry concealed weapons, then that person is free to carry concealed weapons in 47 other States and the District of Columbia. Those other States would be required to let this visitor carry a concealed loaded weapon in their State, even if their laws in that State would not currently allow that person to carry a gun.
Let’s be clear about the effect of this amendment. There are 36 States with laws governing who can carry concealed weapons, including which out-of-State permits that State will accept, if any. The States already have laws. Under the Thune amendment, those laws can be ignored. So if the Thune amendment becomes law, people who are currently prohibited from carrying concealed guns in those 36 States are free to do so.
It is absurd that we are considering this amendment today. We know nothing about the impact this amendment is actually going to have across America. How many Senators from the 36 States that already have laws governing concealed carry have had a chance to talk to their State law enforcement officials about this amendment and what it means?
Apparently, those who support this amendment want to move it very quickly. We scheduled a hearing–it is supposed to take place tomorrow–on this amendment before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime. But the Senator from South Dakota did not want to wait for a hearing before the committee. He has asked the Senate to take up this measure today before the hearing date.
Here are some of the reasons this amendment is so troubling. As my colleagues know, we have a federalist system–a government in Washington, a national government, and in each State and the District of Columbia State government and local control. States have adopted different standards in their State with regard to who the State will permit to carry concealed weapons. Each State has considered this issue and decided what is safe for their residents. Elected representatives, elected by the people, have made that decision State by State.
Some States have very rigorous standards. If you want to carry a concealed weapon, for example, a number of States will not allow you to if you are an abuser of alcohol, if you have been convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes or if you have not completed a training course to show you know how to use a gun.
The States have established that standard. If you want to go “packin’ ” in these States, you better not be a habitual drunkard; you better not be in a position where you have committed these misdemeanor crimes, and you have to prove by test and sometimes on the range that you can safely use this gun that you want to carry.
In Iowa, you cannot have a permit to carry a weapon if you are addicted to alcohol or if you have a history of repeated acts of violence.
In Pennsylvania, individuals convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes, such as impersonating a police officer, cannot have a concealed carry permit.
In South Carolina, any person who is a member of a subversive organization or a habitual drunkard cannot carry a handgun.
In California, you cannot carry a firearm for 10 years after being convicted of misdemeanors, including assault, battery, stalking, threatening a judge, victim, or witness.
Other States, in contrast, have minimal or no concealed carry standards beyond the baseline of the Federal law which applies to all States.
For example, a number of States, including Georgia, do not require any firearms training for a concealed carry permit. In 2008, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told a newspaper: “A blind person can get a permit in Georgia since all you have to do is pass a background check.”
Two States–Alaska and Vermont–do not even require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Those States let anyone carry a concealed weapon.
Under the Thune amendment, people from those States–with virtually no standards for concealed carry or no requirement to prove they know how to use a gun–those people could visit States where they have established standards for the safety of their residents and under the Thune amendment legally carry a gun.
In other words, the visitors can ignore the law of the State–a law the elected representatives of the people in that State have enacted. Some States do little oversight on the concealed carry permits they have issued.
In the year 2007, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper found that 1,400 people in Florida had active concealed carry licenses even though they had received sentences–criminal sentences–for major crimes, including assault, sexual battery, child abuse, and manslaughter.
So even in the States where they have established standards for concealed carry, many of them are not keeping an eye on them. There is no oversight.
As a consequence, people may be legally carrying in one State which has lax standards in obtaining the permit and no review–virtually no review when it comes to the people who end up with the permits–and that person can travel to another State which has established standards for the safety of their own citizens and under the Thune amendment legally carry a gun.
If the Thune amendment is enacted, States with carefully crafted concealed carry laws must allow concealed carry by out-of-State visitors who may not meet their own State’s standards, who may even have sexual battery, child abuse, or manslaughter convictions.
Is that going to make us safer? Do we want in my State–well, Illinois would be an exception because we do not have a concealed carry law. We are one of two States that do not. But for the other 48 States, do we want people traveling across the border who do not meet the basic requirements of knowing how to use a firearm, who do not meet the basic requirements in terms of their own criminal background? Is it so important that everybody carry a gun everywhere or do we want to respect States rights–States rights to determine what is safe in their own State? Why would we want to override some States’ standards to allow questionable concealed carry permit holders from States with lower standards or virtually no standards?
It is not necessary for us to adopt this amendment to give individual States the ability to recognize each other’s concealed carry permits. The Senator from South Dakota has said his State welcomes all people who have concealed carry permits. But that was their decision. They made that decision in their State. States are free to form concealed carry reciprocity agreements with other States.
Twelve States have already decided to honor conceal and carry permits issued by every other State, obviously including South Dakota. However, 25 other States look carefully at each of the other States and make this decision selectively. They have decided that some States have acceptable standards and some do not.
Eleven States and the District of Columbia have chosen not to grant concealed carry reciprocity to any other State. They want their own laws to govern the protection of their own people.
The Thune amendment is a direct assault on those States that have chosen not to allow reciprocity. They are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Over all, the Thune amendment would override the selective reciprocity or no reciprocity laws of each of the 36 States I have mentioned.
There are good reasons a State might want to be careful with who they allow to carry concealed weapons within their borders. Let me give some examples of what has happened with concealed carry.
Washington State resident Clinton Granger obtained a concealed carry permit despite his history of drug addiction and schizophrenia. In May of 2008, Granger was in a fight at a public festival, fired a shot that hit one person in the face, the second person in the wrist, and then lodged in a third person’s leg.
Cincinnati resident Geraldine Beasley obtained an Ohio concealed carry permit, even though she had been previously fined for unlawful transportation of a firearm. In August 2007 she shot and killed a panhandler who asked her for 25 cents at a gas station.
In Moscow, ID, resident and Aryan Nation member Jason Kenneth Hamilton was given a concealed carry permit even though he had a domestic violence conviction. In May 2007, Hamilton went on a shooting spree, killing his wife, a police officer, and a church sexton, and wounding three others.
According to the Violence Policy Center, from May 2007 to April 2009, at least seven law enforcement officers were shot and killed by concealed carry permit holders–these are law enforcement officers–and concealed carry holders were charged in the shooting deaths of at least 43 private citizens during that time.
In light of incidents such as these, it is perfectly reasonable for States to decide what the standards will be for concealed carry. The Thune amendment would override this authority of the States and basically say that visitors from States with a concealed carry law don’t have to meet the State’s standards where they are visiting.
The Thune amendment is troubling because it leaves law enforcement agencies in the dark about the concealed carry population in their own area. In many States, law enforcement plays a key gatekeeper role, an oversight role on the concealed carry population. Under the Thune amendment, that is impossible. The first person who drives in out of State under the Thune amendment may carry a gun and the law enforcement officials wouldn’t even have knowledge of it.
When you look at the Thune amendment, along with the amendment offered earlier this year by Senator Ensign that repeals the DC government’s local gun laws, we see a disturbing trend. We see Members from that side of the aisle leading an organized effort to strip State and local governments of their ability to keep their own communities safe. There is no justification for this. The Supreme Court’s decision in Heller made it clear that although the second amendment right is to be respected in terms of the rights of individuals, there was still authority to deal with this issue of concealed carry.
Justice Scalia in the Heller opinion specifically discussed the lawfulness of prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons. Congress should not require one State’s laws to trump another’s. New York should not have to let visitors on its city streets be governed by the laws of Alaska when it comes to carrying guns, and it should be up to the State to decide who it will permit to carry concealed weapons within their borders.
This is not a good amendment. America won’t be safer if the Thune amendment passes. It has not gone through a hearing in the Senate. The Senator decided to call it up the day before that hearing was set. It guts State laws in 36 States. It will leave law enforcement with no knowledge of who is carrying concealed weapons in their State. It puts guns in the hands of dangerous people who could easily misuse them.
This amendment is opposed by law enforcement organizations, mayors, and State elected officials. I have received letters in opposition to what Senator Thune calls a very simple amendment from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Police Chief Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a coalition of 400 mayors called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a group of State attorneys general, including my own Lisa Madigan, the bipartisan Association of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns, and many others.
The amendment has been criticized in many newspapers, including USA Today, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Enquirer, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Baltimore Sun.
This amendment should be defeated. I urge my colleagues to reject it.
I certainly hope everybody takes note of how adamant this ultra liberal Democrat is about states rights in his little diatribe. It may come in handy very soon.
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Make no mistake about what Durbin and other anti firearm rights Democrats were worried about concerning this amendment. While 48 states do allow some form of concealed carry, at least nine states have chosen much more restrictive “may issue” rather than “shall issue” concealed carry laws which dictate that local law enforcement officials can require someone applying for a permit to “prove” they need to carry a concealed weapon for their personal safety. In the majority “shall issue” states just about anyone legally able to own a firearm can apply for a concealed weapons permit and be granted one after fulfilling their states’ requirements for doing so.
If Thune’s amendment were to have the votes to enable it to stay attached to the National Defense Authorization Act states like California, New York and New Jersey, where it is almost impossible to acquire a concealed carry permit, would be required to allow out of state CCW holders to carry within those states, a situation that just terrifies liberal politicians. These people just can’t imagine any situation where they don’t have complete control over the rights of citizens to legally carry a weapon for personal protection. Remember, with left wingers it’s all about power and having control over the lives of others.
It has been proven, with documented evidence, time and again that the five million concealed carry permit holders from all over this country have some of the lowest incidences of crime as a group in the United States.
As Thune pointed out in rebuttal to Durbin’s comments about CCW permit holders,
Reliable, empirical research shows that States with concealed carry laws enjoy significantly lower crime and violent crime rates than those States that do not. For example, for every year a State has a concealed carry law, the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.
Additionally, research shows that “minorities and women tend to be the ones with the most to gain from being allowed to protect themselves.” The benefits of conceal and carry extend to more than just the individuals who actually carry the firearms. Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm just by looking at a potential victim, they are less likely to commit a crime when they fear they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed.
Studies have shown that there is more defensive gun use by victims than there are crimes committed with firearms in this country. In fact, researchers have estimated that there are as many as 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms in the United States each year, though a lot of those go unreported because no shots are ever fired.
There are estimated to be about 5 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States today. Assuming that every instance reported by gun control groups of improper firearm use by individuals with a concealed carry permit is true–something that can be debated, but assuming that it is true–over an entire year, for over 142,857 permit holders, there would be one–one–improper use of a firearm. Put another way, concealed carry permit holders would be 15 times less–15 times less–likely than the rest of the public to commit murder.
There are some States–and some large States, frankly–that have issued concealed carry permits, and probably one of the largest States is the State of Florida. They have had a concealed carry permit law in effect in the State of Florida going back to 1987. Yet if you look at the 1.57 million concealed carry permits that people have in the State of Florida, there have only been 167 of those revoked. That is less than one-tenth of one percent.
As of 2008, Utah, which allows both residents and nonresidents to acquire concealed carry permits, had 134,398 active concealed handgun permits. Over the past year they have had 12 revocations or .009 percent because of some type of violent crime, but none of those crimes, incidentally, involved the use of a gun.
During the 1990s and through the decade of 2000 so far, independent researchers have found 11 cases where a permit holder committed murder with a gun.
Amendment cosponsor Senator David Vitter added,
….like with a lot of gun control debates, this comes down to a pretty fundamental question: Do you think the big problem with regard to violent crime is the law-abiding citizen, the one who takes the time and goes to the trouble of filling out the forms and following all the rules for concealed carry? I don’t.
Or do you think the fundamental problem—99.99 percent of the problem—is the criminal who doesn’t respect that law, because he doesn’t even respect laws against murder, armed robbery, and other violent crimes? That is the problem. Commonsense Americans know that. This amendment will protect law abiding citizens and provide another effective and important tool against those criminals who are the problem.
It’s difficult to determine which group is most maligned in this country, Christians, white males or lawful gun owners but one thing is for certain, left wing politicians have no problem whatsoever pointing fingers at firearm owners and Second Amendment advocates declaring we are the problem, the danger and the group most likely to commit crimes even though the evidence is not and never has been borne out to support this position, and these clowns know it.
I wonder what kind of outrage there would be if a group of U.S. Senators opposed allowing gang members and illegal aliens from crossing state lines into a state which had passed legislation to keep them out “for the safety of their citizens?”
That would be racist you say? Really? So it’s ok for these Democrat Senators to say that people with concealed carry permits are a lethal danger to our society even though they have passed a mandatory FBI background check in order to purchase a firearm, have in most cases been fingerprinted and gone through hours of safety training and firearm handling classes, haven’t committed any crimes and are proven by easily obtained statistical data that they are very unlikely to, but it’s racist and illegal for a state, in order to protect its citizens, to try and prevent gang members and illegal aliens from crossing state lines and setting up shop within their borders?
After all the U.S. Department of Justice clearly states:
Gun-related homicide is most prevalent among gangs and during the commission of felony crimes. In 1976, the percentage of homicides caused by firearms during arguments was about the same as from gang involvement (about 70 percent), but by 1993, nearly all gang-related homicides involved guns (97 percent), whereas the percentage of gun homicides related to arguments remained relatively constant. The percentage of gang-related homicides caused by guns fell slightly to 94 percent in 2004, but the percentage of homicides caused by firearms during the commission of a felony rose from about 60 percent to 77 percent from 1976 to 2005.
Additionally the DOJ’s statistics show:
Juvenile firearm violence became common in many U.S. cities during the 1990s, and although gun violence peaked in 1993, it remains a persistent problem. Most youth gun violence is concentrated within a few urban neighborhoods (sometimes called “hot spots”) and is perpetrated by gang members.
Illegal alien crime in America is a major problem but many local and state law enforcement officials are prevented from doing anything about it because of federal government rules which have become even more restrictive under the Obama administration.
So there you have it. Data shows concealed carry permit holders are so unlikely to commit a crime that the percentages are infinitesimal yet 35 Democrats, one left of Stalin “Independent” and two Republicans–one from the gun hating state of Illinois and one lame duck from Ohio–think it would be far too dangerous to allow them to leave their home state and travel to another while carrying a concealed firearm for personal protection.
It should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a number of occasions that law enforcement officers have NO Constitutional duty or requirement to provide protection to any citizen in this country. Saving your ass from the murderous dirtbags out there is up to you and you alone.
I certainly hope two things come because of this whisker thin “defeat” of this amendment. One, people remember those who voted against it come election time and two that Thune and Vitter adopt the same tactics as the gay marriage folks and continue to hammer away until they get this amendment passed.