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Public Statements

National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am hoping that there will be no Member that will oppose a commonsense amendment that allows our law enforcement officers to be more protected.

One might think, as I point to this picture of a nurse giving a young man an immunization shot and the young man squinting, that I would be more in tune with this legislation to have a law enforcement officer or a policeman dressed in their uniform.

I put a child here because I wanted to emphasize the fact that, can we have any disagreement that if we put our law enforcement officers in jeopardy, many of them leave behind families. Or I might use as an example this young child is squinting in pain from immunization. That won't harm them, but a person recklessly having stolen maybe someone's gun that comes with the national concealed law, the right-to-carry law, may not have a squinting child but, rather, a dead child.

Let me give you an example of the legislation or the amendment that I have in real time. A North Harris police officer in 2008 had a traffic stop. Before he went to this individual that he was stopping, he dutifully went to a dispatcher, a database to find out who this might be. Tragically, it was not soon enough because a gun was taken and he was shot dead. He leaves behind a wife and two children, albeit the fact that I have a child here, because I'm simply trying to create a simple amendment to this bill that will protect our law enforcement.

What does my amendment do? It ensures that a comprehensive database is created to provide a listing of individuals from each State who possess permits and licenses to carry concealed weapons. This amendment would also require that the concealed-weapons database be available to law enforcement officers in all States 24 hours a day. Thank goodness, because of Federal funding, many of our law enforcement officers have their laptops, many of them even their iPads, and so this database is a simple process.

It is interesting or it should be known that 36 States are especially adversely impacted by this bill because 36 States do not grant any reciprocity. Twenty-seven States recognize concealed-carry permits from only select States. So a 24-hour database, I believe, would do what Republicans and Democrats say they want to do: protect law enforcement officers.

Failing to implement a national system that would allow law enforcement officials to check the status of individuals who are legally allowed to carry a concealed gun will result in a routine situation, such as a traffic stop, becoming a life-threatening situation. If an officer discovered a gun during a routine traffic stop, the officer might quickly and accurately determine this guy is legal as to whether the driver or lady possesses a valid out-of-state permit.

Oh, yes, we can offer reciprocity, but does the officer on the street walk around and look at the car that's coming across the border of their State and a sign says, We have reciprocity, I am from such and such, I'm okay. It is nearly an impossible task for the officer to verify the validity of 48 different carry permits--are we going to have a national carry permit--in the middle of what could be a tense situation.

Even if that person is legally carrying it based upon the permit from another State, according to the majority's report on this bill, only 18 States maintain an electronic database of concealed-carry permits that are immediately accessible to other law enforcement agencies. Seven States cannot provide any real-time access to this basic information to out-of-state agencies, and two States do not even maintain a database for their own purposes. This amendment gives our local law enforcement a plausible chance to verify whether out-of-state concealed-carry permits are legitimate.

Mr. Chairman, how much time do I have remaining?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman has 1 minute remaining.

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I yield to my ranking member on this amendment.

Mr. CONYERS. I thank the gentlelady for yielding. And I am in full support of the logical and rational approach that she is taking in supporting a database.

I plead with my colleagues to join us in a bipartisan sense to support an amendment that would create a comprehensive mechanism so that all permits and licenses for carrying concealed weapons would be available on a 24-hour-a-day basis. I congratulate the gentlelady on her amendment.

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the gentleman for his kindness.

Who can oppose such a simple amendment, particularly when it is noted that some States do not have this electronic database?

The officer who went to his dispatcher, who was doing the right thing, he lost his life. He left behind children. Do we want squinting children getting an immunization shot or getting shot?

I ask my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my amendment #4 to H.R. 822, the ``National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.'' My amendment ensures that a comprehensive database is created to provide a listing of individuals from each State who possess permits and licenses to carry concealed weapons. This amendment would also require that the concealed weapons database be available to law enforcement officers in all States 24-hours a day.

Failing to implement a national system that would allow law enforcement officials to check the status of individuals who are legally allowed to carry a concealed gun could result in a routine situation, such as a like traffic stops, becoming life-threatening situation.

If an officer discovered a gun during a routine traffic stop, the officer must quickly and accurately determine whether the driver possesses a valid out-of-state permit. It is a nearly impossible task for the officer to verify the validity of 48 different carry permits, in the middle what could be a tense or dangerous situation.

According to the Majority's report on this bill, only 12 states maintain an electronic database of concealed carry permits that are immediately accessible to other law enforcement agencies. 7 states cannot provide any real time access to this basic information to out-of-state agencies, and 2 states do not even maintain a database for their own purposes.

This amendment gives state and local law enforcement a plausible chance to verify whether out-of-state concealed carry permits are legitimate

Consider for a moment, a police officer in Houston, Texas has just pulled someone over for speeding. The driver, who is a resident of Missouri, gives the officer a concealed carry permit from Utah, which is a state that grants concealed carry permits to nonresidents. Under our current system it is impossible for the officer in Houston to instantly confirm whether or not the driver from Missouri has a valid right to carry a concealed weapon.

State and local law enforcement should always be aware of who is carrying loaded, hidden guns in their communities. A local sheriff or police chief would benefit from knowing how many people carrying a concealed weapon have entered their jurisdiction from out-of-state, and who those people are.

My amendment would give the officer the ability to garner this information from a comprehensive database; this would allow the officer to have an advantage when approaching a vehicle with a potentially armed driver.

As it stands officers would have to distinguish between real and fake carry permits issued not only by their own state, but by every state. And in many cases, officers would have to determine whether a person is entitled to carry a gun, which would depend on their state of residence and is nearly impossible to verify quickly.

The comprehensive database provides the officer with an information safety net, although my amendment will not address the significant flaws in this legislation; this is an attempt to ensure that law enforcement officers have an additional tool at their disposal.

In addition, state authorities would also have information on whether or not the individuals applying for licenses in their state have ever had a license revoke in a different state.

Under this bill, local law enforcement will have a difficult time verifying out-of-state permits in real time. Pass this amendment to give our local law enforcement officials a fighting chance.

A comprehensive database would save lives, as state officials could use this database to determine whether they would be issuing a permit to an individual, who may have had their permit revoked in another state.

THE STORY OF MARQUS

In 2005, a man named Marqus had his concealed carry permit revoked by Philadelphia Police after he had been charged with attempted murder. During the revocation hearing, he attacked an officer.

After this incident Marqus was able to attain a new permit from Florida despite his record of violence. He then used his Florida permit to carry a loaded gun in Philadelphia.

Marqus who under Philadelphia law regained his right to carry a concealed weapon in Philadelphia only because of a reciprocity agreement with the state of Florida, would eventually, use this right to carrying a concealed weapon to shoot a teenager in the chest thirteen times killing him in the streets of Philadelphia. Philadelphia did its job, they revoked a license of a violent individual.

Florida if they had access to the type of database I am proposing today may have reconsidered issuing a license to Marqus. However, if Florida continued to issue licenses to individuals that a state, such as Texas, did not agree believe have licenses. Under the current law the State of Texas would be able to revoke their reciprocity agreement. H.R. 822 takes away the States ability to determine how to best protect their citizens from those who they have determined should not be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

Currently, each state has its own eligibility standards. Those criteria include determining the following: At least 38 states, including Texas, prevent people from carrying concealed weapons if they have certain dangerous misdemeanor criminal convictions beyond domestic violence misdemeanors, which prohibit gun possession under federal law.

Over 50 percent of states, including Texas, require those seeking permits to complete a safety training program, many of these programs include live fire training, or other proof of competency prior to the issuance of a carry permit. As well as, and age restriction such as prohibiting anyone

Although it is often argued that guns do not kill people, people kill people. Well, it can also be said we should not make it any easier to put a powerful and lethal weapon in the hands of those who have histories of violence and abuse.

Every sheriff and police officer in the country would have to honor concealed carry permits from all 50 states but first they would need to be able to verify the validity of each state's different type of permit. Knowing local laws and recognizing when someone is breaking them already keeps our law enforcement busy. But H.R. 822, as written, would not give police a way to ensure out-of-state permits were valid or up to date.

Some state permits look as simple as a library card, and would be just as easy to forge. A national database would result in a uniform approach on who has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. The fact that each state has its own requirements is indicative of how complex this issue really is and with one measure Congress would eliminate the right of States to set their own public safety laws. If this measure passes every state will be compelled to honor every other State's permit to carry concealed and loaded guns, regardless of how different each state's standards or criteria to secure a permit may be.

States should have the right to know whether the individuals carrying concealed weapons have valid permits or licenses to carry or possess concealed weapons. This measure would require that one central database be created, which encompasses the information of each person from each state who has a current, valid permit or license to carry or possess a concealed handgun--and requires that this comprehensive database be accessible to law enforcement in any state 24 hours a day.

I believe that an amendment creating a comprehensive listing of licensed individuals from each State, in one main location that is accessible at any time of day is a necessary tool that will protect the public and the safety of law enforcement officers.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank you for your courtesies, and I am delighted to have seen my good friend engage in a dialogue and a colloquy with my friend from Tennessee. Maybe I might even get the same courtesies because this is a very important issue that also deals with constitutional questions.

I am back with my young man who is getting his immunization shot, with a nurse looking over him, because I want people to know that this is about family, that it's about the fact as to whether or not we make a statement on behalf of protecting law enforcement, of protecting our families, and not fall upon the spear of the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association.

To my ranking member and dear friend, even the supercommittee is not without ghosts riding through. I understand they had a deal, and then Mr. Norquist comes riding through. Whenever we want to talk about getting together on guns and the Second Amendment, the NRA comes riding through. So we've got the NRA, and we've got Mr. Norquist, and we can't ever get any bipartisanship because the ghosts keep riding through.

My amendment is a very simple one, and it speaks, again, to protecting the lives of our officers, and what it says is having the State have a designated entity, a designated agency, that requires an individual coming into another State with a concealed-carry permit to provide at least 24 hours advance notice to law enforcement agencies of their intention to carry or possess a concealed handgun in another State. States must retain their ability to know which individuals are allowed under this newly proposed bill to possess and carry a concealed weapon.

Now, my friend did not engage with me in a dialogue, the gentleman, I believe, from South Carolina.

But just imagine a trooper with a traffic stop on, say, for example, I-45 in the State of Texas--it could be I-95 in Maryland--at 3 a.m. The car has a Colorado license plate, and the driver supplies a Colorado driver's license. The State trooper goes back to his car, and he can instantly validate this person is from Colorado with respect to the license plate and the license. Upon returning to the car, the trooper notices that the driver has a concealed weapon on his hip. The driver hands over his Colorado concealed-carry permit. The trooper has no ability to determine the validity of that permit. Therefore, if that person had been required to notify a State agency in Texas or in Maryland, that information might be readily accessible.

I heard a comment about the NLET process. You can go to the NLET. Only 12 States have allowed electronic access to their concealed-carry databases known as NLET. It does not respond, in essence, to the other 38 States.

My friends, we are recklessly passing a bill that we think is sorely needed. It does not in any way have anything to do with jobs. It doesn't have anything to do with protecting innocent children. It has nothing to do with making sure our law enforcement is safe. I am simply adding an amendment that would make it better. When you're coming into our State, let's let our law enforcement know, and let's provide safety to the American people.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I'm so glad my dear friend rose to speak to the new phenomenon of apples and oranges.

My friends, I am not coddling criminals. We know this is a distinctive bill that is not addressing the question of criminals who come to do us harm. What we are suggesting is that guns kill, and we are suggesting that people use guns to kill.

On that lonely, dark road at 3 a.m., when that trooper identifies your driver's license but can't identify whether or not you have a legitimate concealed-weapon permit to carry, then we are asking for you to have help. We're asking for there to be 24-hour notification. I am sure there will be the possibility of waivers, but don't tell me that a law enforcement entity, once known that they can go to the documentation that has the notification that someone is coming in from another State with a concealed weapon, will not find it useful. In fact, it will help this law enforcement officer tell this individual carrying legally, On your way, sir; On your way, ma'am. Thank you. Or, in essence, we might catch someone who has a concealed weapon and a permit from another State, but that person is rushing across the State to get away from a wife or a husband and has been in a violent domestic abuse or a domestic violence altercation.

So let me just say, for all of the laughers, guns kill, and it is a shame that we allow the ghost of the NRA to ride into this place and just smack down common sense. Save the lives of children because guns kill. Save the lives of law enforcement officers who leave behind children, because guns kill. Don't fool around with the NLET process, which doesn't even work. Let's notify. I ask for the support of my amendment.

Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of my amendment No. 8 to H.R. 822, the ``National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.'' My amendment ensures that any person seeking to possess a concealed weapon in a state other than the state that issued the concealed carry permit must provide at least 24 hours advance notice to law enforcement agencies of their intention to carry or possess a concealed handgun in another State.

States must retain their ability to know which individuals are allowed, under this newly proposed bill, to possess and carry concealed weapons within their borders. This measure would require an individual to notify out of state law enforcement, 24 hours in advance, of their intention to possess or carry a concealed weapon into the borders of a State in which those individuals are not licensed.

In its current form, the bill will have a difficult time verifying out of state permits in real time, endangering their lives, and the lives of the public. State and local law enforcement must always be aware of who is carrying loaded, hidden guns. This information will give law enforcement a fighting chance as they protect their communities.

I believe that an amendment requiring prompt and adequate notification to law enforcement officials regarding an out of state individual's intention to carry a concealed weapon is necessary to protect the safety of the public and to protect the safety of the men and women who protect the public.

According to the Majority's report on this bill, only 12 states maintain electronic databases of concealed carry permits that are immediately accessible to other law enforcement agencies. 7 states cannot provide any real time access to this basic information, and 2 states do not even maintain databases.

Currently, there are several states that have implemented time requirements to ensure the safety of their citizens when dealing with a variety of weapons. This amendment will create a standard that is sure to provide law enforcement with the information desperately needed to keep the public safe from unknown harms.

This is a fundamental states rights issue. The measure before us today takes away a state's right to set their own criteria for determining who should be allowed to carry a fire arm within their borders.

Texas has robust handgun concealed carry laws and these laws would only undermine the criteria established by my home state. This measure would bolster the protections that Texas and many other states seek to implement to protect their citizens from gun violence. Texas standard to attain a permit is currently higher than current federal law and the requirements of a number of other states.

As it stands Texas already honors the permits of 39 other states; which only emphasizes that this can be address at the state level. One of my main concerns is that the lives and safety of men and women working in the line of duty will be compromised if we fail to effectuate this amendment requiring a 24-hour advance notice of out of state individuals carrying concealed weapons.

Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for us every day. Since 2009 least 122 law enforcement officers have been shot and killed, with an average of one officer killed by gunfire each week. Since the beginning of 2011, guns have killed at least 30 law enforcement officers. It is important that the very men and women who put their lives on the line are the very men and women who have instant access to information on whether on not the individual they are approaching during a routine traffic stop is armed.

In 2009, Houston Police Officer Timothy Abernathy was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. An 11 year Veteran of the Houston Police Department, Officer Abernathy stopped a vehicle for a minor traffic violation. This should have been routine, but the suspect shot Officer Abernathy in the head, killing him. Officer Abernathy was 43 years old.

Gun violence is dangerous to all Americans. In 2010, approximately 8,775 people were killed by firearms. 6,000 of those deaths were caused by handguns. In 2010, 152 of those killed by guns were law enforcement officers. Each year, there are approximately 16,000 assaults on police officers, and many of those attacks utilize firearms.

The facts are quite simple. If we are going to ask state and local law enforcement officials to put their lives on the line every day for the safety of our communities, we owe it to them to know who is carrying a loaded and concealed weapon. Establishing a database of individuals with concealed carry permits could save a life.

I urge my colleagues to support my amendment to H.R. 822 in order to ensure that we act fervently to protect the lives of those who risk their lives for the general public on a daily basis. Again, this amendment will strengthen a State's ability to continue its efforts to protect the safety of its citizens and law enforcement officials.

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