Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) slammed the House Republican Majority for passing a bill which would force all 50 states to accept concealed handgun carry permits issued in other states, regardless of whether or not the permit violates state law. The bill would override individual state laws and create serious difficulty for law enforcement.
"It is fascinating to watch the hypocrisy in action. The National Republican Party wraps themselves in the cloak of states' rights when it's convenient to their radical agenda. They say regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency protecting our clean air and water violates states rights. They deny civil rights to LGBT couples by claiming states rights in preventing gay marriage. They say states should have their own abortion laws. They want health care and consumer protection to be dictated by the states. However, when deadly weapons are the topic, states' rights go right out the window," said Rep. Engel, who has received high praise for his votes from the Brady Foundation. "Clearly, states' rights only matter to national Republicans when it suits their political agenda. With over 30,000 Americans losing their lives every year to gun violence, it is inconceivable we would even consider allowing more guns to cross state lines. This flies in the face of regions seeking to stem the tide of gun violence."
H.R. 822 allows individuals to carry concealed, loaded weapons in public even if they do not meet the minimum public safety standards many states currently have in place. Requirements such as safety training, minimum age or a clean arrest record can be ignored. The bill is opposed by over 500 members of the bipartisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and dozens of law enforcement organizations, including the police chiefs of 56 major U.S. cities. Faiths United, a coalition of over 30 national religious groups, also opposes the bill.
"If this bill became law, a person rejected for a gun permit in New York could easily travel to another state to receive a concealed carry permit based on much easier requirements. New York requires firearm training and excludes people with drinking problems or criminal records, while other state's requirements are much less stringent. That person could then use his out-of-state permit to carry a concealed firearm in New York. This puts New Yorkers -- people I have been elected to represent in Congress and protect their safety -- at serious risk. That is completely unacceptable to me," said Rep. Engel.
Rep. Engel added, "What is good for the residents of other states with lax gun laws is not always good for New Yorkers. The people of our state feel a whole lot safer without having to worry about guns from other states wandering around our cities and towns in the pockets of potentially dangerous people."
While safety of residents would be endangered, the safety of law enforcement would also be put at risk. The bill would make it nearly impossible for police to verify the validity of 48 different carry permits at a traffic stop. Officers would also have to distinguish between real and fake carry permits issued by states other than their own. Many of these decisions need to be split-second and are often a matter of life and death.
"I am amazed that less than a year after one of our colleagues was gunned down in her own district, this Congress would seek to make it easier to carry concealed weapons. We don't have to go too far back in time to find other terrible instances of gun violence -- Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and other school shootings. Here in my own district, I have attended too many funerals of innocent victims of gun violence over the years, people who were minding their own business and were hit by crossfire. These examples are just a tip of the iceberg. I am very disappointed in my Republican colleagues for making this a priority rather than passing a bill which helps people get back to work," added Rep. Engel.