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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 822, National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of the underlying bill and the rule. This is a critical issue with respect to Americans' basic rights.

Courts have held over almost a century and a half that the right to bear arms is simply more than the Second and the 14th Amendment. It decided in the case of Beard v. U.S. in 1895 that citizens were entitled to repel force by force, and entitled to stand their ground and meet any attack made on them by a deadly weapon. They then ruled 3 years ago in the D.C. v. Heller case, where they essentially declared self-defense as an inherent right central to the Second Amendment. And then in the case emanating in my State of Illinois, in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, further elaborated and extended that constitutional protection.

So the underlying bill and American citizens' right and the ability to carry firearms from State to State and to have that essential right built in, I think, is critical.

I rise in reluctant support, however, of the rule and the bill only from this standpoint, and that's the reason, in part, for my time here today, which I thank the gentleman for and I thank the Members of this Chamber for.

Illinois is unique in that we have no carry-conceal weapon law. We have no ability on the part of Illinois citizens to defend themselves. We have no right or ability on the part of Illinois citizens to exercise their Second and 14th Amendment rights. This bill, as it now reads, would extend the right only to other States--and I'm supportive of that because I think it's critical that we extend that right--but I am committed, as well as a number of my Illinois colleagues, and I think Second Amendment and fundamental rights Congressmen throughout the United States, to restore that right and to bring that right to Illinois citizens.

Time after time after time, as I visit the coffee houses, as I meet with individuals throughout the district, as I meet with people throughout the State, we are essentially denied in Illinois the rights and privileges of every other citizen of every other State in the Union except Illinois. That's a glaring deficiency, it's an omission, and I believe, frankly, that it strikes at the core of our constitutional guarantees.

I am going to continue to fight, not only on this bill, but on standalone legislation down the line and through the process to bring to Illinois the same rights, keep and bear arms, Second and 14th Amendment rights, that other citizens have throughout the country. It's extraordinarily important. It reaches at the essence of our Constitution, the essence of our guarantees as participants in a republic of civil liberties, and I believe that it is critical that we continue the fight now together with my colleagues, Congressman Hultgren and others from Illinois who have joined me in this process.


Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois. I appreciate the time.

I support the bill. I support the rule. But I also support--and I want to conclude by saying this--Illinois citizens' right to keep and bear arms that are being flagrantly denied by our Illinois legislature.


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