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Public Statements

Concealed Carry Laws

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KINZINGER of Illinois. Madam Speaker, last Friday something actually very great happened. Wisconsin became the 49th State in the Union to approve concealed carry. Well, that means that leaves my home State, Illinois, as the only State to oppose that constitutional right to concealed carry.

The action taken by Governor Scott Walker was a major step for Wisconsin, but the State of Illinois now remains the only State in the Nation to prohibit concealed carry and deny law-abiding citizens' rights to protect themselves or their family.

The Constitution of the United States and 44 States, common law, and laws of all 50 States recognize the right to use arms in self-defense. In 1895, the Supreme Court case, Beard v. U.S., the Court approved the common law rule that a person ``may repel force by force'' in self-defense and concluded that, when attacked, a person is ``entitled to stand his ground and meet any attack made upon him with a deadly weapon.''

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that ``the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,'' and that the amendment protects ``the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.''

Right-to-carry laws have proven to be effective. Since 1991 through 2009, 23 States have adopted the right to carry, and violent crime rates have declined 43 percent. This all comes on the heels of a five-fold increase in the number of shall-issue conceal carry States from 1986 to 2006. Along with this, since the 1980s when the conceal carry issue started, the number of conceal carry permit holders is estimated to have risen from 1 million to 6 million people. Of major note, murder has declined 49 percent. Also, the city with the highest gun homicide rate in the Nation, Washington, D.C., happens to also have the strictest gun control.

The lowest rate of gun homicide in the Nation is in Utah, which has some of the most liberal policies when it comes to conceal carry issues. According to the FBI, total violent crime and murder dropped more than 6 percent during the first half of 2011. Anti-gun advocates are in disbelief over this number as not only is the Nation going through an economic downturn, but they've been seeing that the amount of Federal background checks done in order to purchase firearms broke record levels with more than 14 million occurring last year alone. That's a 55 percent increase in firearms purchases in just 4 years, but it has not even led remotely close to the doom and gloom havoc being peddled by anti-gun advocates.

Criminologist Gary Kleck analyzed National Crime Victimization Surveys and concluded that robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all. Unfortunately, in my home State of Illinois, Governor Quinn took it upon himself in May to determine what's best for Illinois. Rather than listening to the voice of the Illinois constituency, Quinn made desperate 11th-hour phone calls to sway Illinois Democrats to his side and block vital legislation to allow concealed carry in Illinois. He knows better than 49 other States, and he knows better than top law enforcement organizations like the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs Association, the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association, and the Chicago Police Sergeants Association.

Quinn doesn't get it, but 49 other States do and so do I, which is why I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, which was introduced by my colleague, Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida. This bill allows any person with a State-issued concealed carry to carry in any other State. Therefore, for the 49 States that issue concealed carry permits, their State laws would apply.

In Illinois, I refuse to deny visitors the right to carry weapons when they are authorized to do so. We must follow the example set by every other State in this Nation and allow law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms. We must restore, defend and preserve this constitutional right at all government levels.

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