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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
My amendment would exempt States from right-to-carry reciprocity when the State does not require individuals to apply for and complete a carry permit application at their local law enforcement station.
The United States Congress should never be in the business of stripping States of the right to make their own decisions about whether to recognize other States' permits. States have put forward a considerable amount of time trying to determine just what is best for their citizenry in reference to safety. By overriding State-based concealed-carry laws and forcing States to recognize concealed-carry permits from every other State, we're putting our State and local law enforcement in grave danger.
Two nights ago the sheriff in my county and I discussed this matter. I might add he is a Republican sheriff who is a friend of mine. We discussed this matter, and we concluded that it's going to be very difficult to get people to want to become police officers. Not only are they being attacked in reference to their organizing efforts, but now we are going to make it difficult for them to do their jobs.
This amendment closes a loophole that would otherwise be created by H.R. 822.
Almost every State allows concealed-carry in some form, but States differ in how they implement their concealed-carry policies, including having, as has been mentioned, different age requirements, training requirements, and excluding individuals guilty of certain crimes. One of these major discrepancies is addressed in this amendment and would force a State wishing to enforce H.R. 822's State reciprocity requirement to make certain carry permit applications are completed at an individual's local law enforcement station.
In my home State of Florida, concealed-carry permits may be granted to nonresidents, and all applicants are allowed to apply by mail. It is so easy that a staffer in one of our offices was able to complete the form in less than 30 minutes. If H.R. 822 passes, residents and nonresidents of Florida would be able to apply by mail from almost anywhere in the country and use their concealed-carry permits throughout the country.
Mr. Chairman, gun violence continues to grow at astounding levels in the United States. When the Surgeon General was Mr. Satcher, he called it an epidemic and even said that it was a health crisis so many people were killing each other with weapons.
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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. I thank the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. Chairman, the last thing we need is to tell sovereign States that they are no longer free to make the decision to require an in-person interview when making a gun permit determination. At least 10 States grant law enforcement broad discretion to deny permits to carry concealed, loaded guns based on an applicant's record or other factors. Fourteen other States grant law enforcement more limited discretion. In addition, at least 14 States require applicants to show good moral character. Many of these States require applicants to present themselves in person for interviews. For example, applicants in New York must complete an in-person interview to receive their carry permit.
By contrast, Utah applicants, as has been pointed out by the ranking member, can submit their application by mail and can complete the fingerprinting and firearm safety training requirements outside of the State. In comparison, Utah's driver's license application specifically requires, and rightly so, that applicants submit the application in person, that it be notarized, and that the employee initial the application upon submission. Utah also grants permits to nonresidents, potentially allowing individuals nationwide to apply for a permit by mail.
Supporters of H.R. 822 claim that concealed-carry permits should be treated like driver's licenses. My amendment, however, points out that this is yet another instance of my friends' hypocrisy. First-time drivers applying for licenses in Utah and Florida must appear in person and pass a written and road test.
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While Utah and Florida are free to make the decision that they will not require in-person appearances for concealed carry permit applicants, it should not be the job of Congress to impose this decision on other states.
Mr. Chair, H.R. 822 is a dangerous bill, and quite frankly will do nothing to create a single job across the nation.
Americans are hurting, they want jobs, and to be able to provide for their families.
I urge my colleagues to support my amendment, which will help to close a dangerous loophole created by H.R. 822.
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I yield back the balance of my time.