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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 822, National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. NUGENT. I rise today in support of House Resolution 463, a rule which provides for the consideration of an important piece of legislation, H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.

I am proud to sponsor this rule, which provides for a structured amendment process that will allow Members to have a thorough debate on a wide variety of relevant and germane amendments to H.R. 822. We have allowed 10 amendments to this bill--two Republican amendments and eight Democratic amendments. Even on a contentious bill, a bill where it would be easy to shut down the process, we not only are allowing amendments, but of those that we will be debating on the floor, the vast majority are Democratic amendments.

We did this not because it was the easy thing to do; we did it because it was the right thing to do. It brought transparency to the debate, and it is in keeping with the promises that the Republican Party made to the American people for a freer, more open process.

Madam Speaker, until coming to this body 10 months ago, I had spent my entire career as a cop, the last 10 years as sheriff of Hernando County, Florida. During my 38 years in law enforcement, I found that disarming honest citizens does nothing to reduce crime. If anything, all it does is keep law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves from violent criminals. Although I know this just from my anecdotal experience, research backs up the claim.

For example, statistics indicate that citizens with carry permits are more law-abiding than the general public. In my home State of Florida, only 0.01 percent of nearly 1.2 million permits have been revoked because of firearm crimes committed by permit holders. Additionally, evidence indicates that crime declines in States with right-to-carry laws. Since Florida became a right-to-carry State in 1987, Florida's total violent crime and murder rates have dropped 32 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

Because of this evidence, as well as my firsthand experience, I am a proud defender of our Second Amendment right: ensuring ``the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'' My history as a law enforcement officer is also why I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.

H.R. 822 is a good, bipartisan bill, which enhances the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. Today, if I drive from my home State of Florida into Georgia, Georgia recognizes that my Florida driver's license is still valid even once I cross the State line. H.R. 822 would require States to recognize each other's legally issued concealed carry permits in the same way. This legislation would take a comprehensive approach to helping law-abiding citizens navigate the patchwork of State concealed carry laws.

H.R. 822 does not--let me repeat--does not create a national concealed carry permit system nor does it establish any nationalized standard for a carry permit. H.R. 822 respects the States' abilities to create their own gun usage laws as well as their own permitting processes.

I am sure that we will hear arguments from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle saying that H.R. 822 somehow makes it easier for people to get a gun. Let me assure you that, again, this is not the case. This legislation does not mandate that anyone suddenly be given a gun nor does it relax any of a State's current permitting laws.

During my nearly 40 years as a cop, I learned you just can't talk about guns. When you're talking about gun crime, you need to look at two distinct classes of guns: there are legal guns, and there are illegal guns. I can tell you, as a cop, you don't worry about the legal guns, the guns that people bought from an authorized source, that they registered with the proper authorities, that they took the necessary classes to learn how to use responsibly, and that they got their legal concealed carry permit. In my experience, you worry about the illegal guns, guns that somebody purposefully bought off the radar, either because they aren't legally allowed to own a gun or because they're going to use them for illegal purposes.

H.R. 822 doesn't get into that difference. What it does is ensures that legal gun owners don't accidentally break a law simply because they brought their fully permitted gun into another State. This legislation gives peace of mind to Americans traveling across State lines with a legally registered, concealed firearm, knowing that they can practice their constitutional right to bear arms.

Again, I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 822 and support its passage.

With that, I encourage all my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the rule, ``yes'' on the underlying legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

In 2007 a Colorado man named Matthew Murray allegedly wrote online, ``All I want to do is kill and injure as many Christians as I can.'' Murray then went on to a shooting rampage, first killing two young students at a missionary training center outside of Denver. And then at a gathering of 7,000 people in and around the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a rifle and a backpack full of ammunition, Murray entered the church and opened fire, killing two sisters. Murray was ultimately stopped and killed by a church member and a volunteer security guard, Jeanne Assam, who has a concealed-carry permit and once worked in law enforcement. Assam shot Murray several times, leading him to kill himself.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. NUGENT. The gentleman talks about States' rights. We agree, there are States that do not have concealed-carry permits. So it is within the States' rights to decide how they are going to regulate that particular issue in regards to weapons in their State.

Madam Speaker, I would like to yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from North Carolina, Dr. Foxx.

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Mr. NUGENT. Madam Speaker, I am always amazed at what goes on in these Chambers. We hear from the other side of the aisle about talking about jobs, even though this House has passed 20--20, count them--jobs bills. If you don't believe it, read it.

We talk about issues about ``In God We Trust.'' I think it is something that we should affirm here in America, about our belief in God.

I believe that the Second Amendment is not a special interest group. I believe the Second Amendment needs to be protected at all costs. You've heard some in this House that would take away our right to even carry or possess a firearm.

Madam Speaker, in 40 years in law enforcement, it wasn't just guns that killed people; it was every object imaginable, from fists to feet to pipes to kitchen knives and baseball bats.

Madam Speaker, this is about the ability for those that have a legitimate carry permit to go across the State line and not be subject to arrest, someone who makes an honest mistake by going across the State line that doesn't have a reciprocity agreement with their current State and they have a carry permit.

Madam Speaker, this is more about what's right with America in regards to upholding our Second Amendment, our constitutional right. And so those that are in favor of doing away with all types of guns, I guess, it smacks that they disagree with our Founding Fathers and our Second Amendment right.

Madam Speaker, I support this rule and encourage my colleagues to support it as well. H.R. 822 protects the rights of legal gun owners throughout the United States.

I've heard this debate this afternoon about the dangers of gun crime. I completely agree. Guns are dangerous tools that need to be treated with respect. Guns can be used by people to kill other people. However, what I saw in those 40 years as a cop is we need to talk about these in broader terms. What we really need to do is talk about the difference between legal and illegal guns.

Most people who use a gun to kill a human being are not just using a gun they obtained legally, that they are licensed legally, that they got a legal concealed-carry permit for. When you look at the numbers of CCW permit holders that have actually violated the law, at least in the State of Florida, it's .001 percent.

There are people that are criminals, and they're criminals simply for having a firearm. Even in the State of Florida, a felon can't possess a firearm. The discussion of what to do with these folks and how to keep them from illegally possessing a firearm is another debate at another time.

Today we're talking about one thing. We're talking about legal gun owners to legally travel from one State to another that have a concealed weapons permit. I support that effort, and that's why I'm a proud cosponsor--and stand here today--of H.R. 822 and as the sponsor of this rule, H. Res. 463.

I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this strongly--I underline ``strongly''--bipartisan legislation.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.

The previous question was ordered.

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