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National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to this dangerous bill, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. The 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution provides as follows: ``The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.''

Mr. Chairman, this bill would override the laws of almost every State by forcing them to accept concealed-carry gun permits from every other State, even if the permit holder would not be allowed to carry a handgun in the State where he or she is traveling. This is ridiculous. Each State should decide who may carry a concealed, loaded gun within their borders; and the Federal Government should respect the States' rights to do so.

The irony here is that my friends on the Tea Party Republican side of the aisle claim to respect States' rights, but then they rush this legislation to the House floor, which tramples over States' rights.

These Tea Party Republicans claim they want to create jobs for the millions of unemployed Americans in our Nation, but they are not focusing on creating jobs. Instead, they're bowing down to the National Rifle Association by moving this piece of special interest legislation forward.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous bill.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of Congressman Woodall's amendment. I would point out that currently States have the ability to enter into reciprocity agreements with other States. This legislation, should it pass, would take that ability away. It would mandate that there be this reciprocity agreement, and that's usurpation of States' rights.

I have no problem with the Second Amendment, by the way, and the NRA is a lobbying organization which is quite powerful here in Washington, DC.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of my amendment to this dangerous bill, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.

My amendment is about protecting a State's right to decide who may carry a concealed, loaded handgun within its borders. It would require the possession of or carrying of a concealed handgun in a State be subject to that State's law regarding firearm safety training, including live-fire exercise.

Currently, at least 34 States require applicants to complete a firearm safety training course or present proof of equivalent experience in order to obtain a concealed-carry permit; 19 States require live-fire instruction to obtain a carry permit. However, some States only require minimal training such as an Internet-only instruction. Even worse, however, are the States that do not require any firearm training to obtain a concealed-carry permit.

This bill would override State laws and require States to allow out-of-State residents to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public, even if they have not met basic licensing or training requirements mandated for carrying in that State. This does not make any sense.

By federally mandating recognition of all out-of-State concealed handgun permits, H.R. 822 would allow individuals who do not meet a State's live-fire firearm training standards to carry concealed weapons within their borders and prohibit States from ever restricting carrying by those individuals.

According to the Violence Policy Center, since May 2007, at least 385 people, including law enforcement officers, have been killed by individuals with concealed-carry permits. None of these incidents involved self-defense. Some of these incidents included mass shootings--the most recent occurring in July at a child's birthday party at a Texas roller rink--claiming the lives of 89 innocent victims. This illustrates why States should have the right to determine who is eligible to carry firearms within their borders. They know what is best for their communities.

This bill is all about the National Rifle Association and its needs, not about the American people and putting them back to work. Congress should not put its stamp of approval on this dangerous and misguided legislation.

States that require a person to demonstrate that they know how to use a firearm or meet minimum training standards before obtaining a concealed-carry permit should not be forced to allow out-of-State visitors to carry concealed weapons if they do not meet that State's concealed licensing requirements, especially if a State requires that individuals undergo live-fire training to ensure they know how to properly operate a firearm. This is common sense.

This is a commonsense amendment, and it will keep Americans safe. It simply would require the possession or carrying of a concealed handgun in a State be subject to that State's law regarding firearm safety training, including live-fire exercises.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and oppose the underlying bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague from Texas, Chairman Smith. This legislation does, in fact, insert the Federal Government into State licensing of firearms, and it does it in a big way. It actually eviscerates the States' ability to regulate how or the qualifications for applicants to be able to receive a concealed-carry permit.

As I stated earlier, 34 States require applicants to complete a firearms safety training course; unfortunately, Georgia does not. But that does not mean that that is right or proper. I believe that other States can certainly have a more conscientious approach to gun licensing, and certainly States have had a right to do that, and I want to preserve that right.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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