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Mr. REICHERT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Today we are considering a national reciprocity law for firearms licenses and permits. I have always supported Second Amendment rights for people to carry and keep firearms.
I come at this from a little bit of a different perspective. I was a police officer for 33 years. I worked the streets for 6 years in a patrol car, SWAT commander, hostage negotiator. I have had guns pointed at me. I have looked down the barrel of a shotgun. I have looked down the barrel of a rifle. I have heard the shots fly by. I have been at the other end of the gun, too. Fortunately, I have not had to fire at anyone, but in protection of the people in my community, I have experienced being at both ends of a firearm.
So I understand and I get the concerns of cops, my brothers and sisters in law enforcement. What we want to make sure today is that those law enforcement officers across this country that protect us--and they're protecting us while we're in the Capitol today--are equipped and prepared to enforce this law.
I have a concern, so my amendment would require that the GAO look into whether or not law enforcement officers are able and have the ability to verify the validity of out-of-State concealed firearms permits and licenses. Within 1 year of enactment, the results of this study will be reported to the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Our State and local law enforcement across this country every day put their lives on the line. They put the badge on. They put their uniforms on. They walk out into the street. They go out in their patrol cars and are putting their lives on the line. It's a risk and responsibility that they will gladly accept. They want to come home safely, of course, to their families, but they know the risks when they leave their home. They know the risks when they put on the badge. We owe it to them to ensure the underlying bill does not create any unintended consequences or additional safety concerns.
Right now it is unclear whether every cop in every jurisdiction across this Nation can efficiently determine the validity of concealed-firearms permits. Each State decides how best to store that information and have access to its own concealed-carry permit information, but maybe not that of other States.
Only 12 States right now are participating in a program that allows electronic access to a joint concealed-carry database. In the remaining 38 States, law enforcement officers are required to contact appropriate local officials over the phone or by email. This method is not timely enough and not effective. We must understand how long it takes for law enforcement officers to determine whether or not a State concealed-carry permit is legitimate or fraudulent. This is critical to both the safety of the cops patrolling our neighborhoods and protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.
This GAO study will help us better understand the impact of national reciprocity for concealed firearms on our Nation's law enforcement and their ability to effectively enforce the law. We must pass this amendment to ensure that our cops have the adequate tools to enforce this law.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. REICHERT. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
The question is whether or not this study is tied to the passage of the bill. No, the study is not tied to the passage of the bill. The study will begin upon passage of the bill, and the report must be filed before 1 year is up.
Mr. CONYERS. I see. Could I ask the gentleman why we wouldn't conduct the study in front of the bill rather than after the bill?
Mr. REICHERT. The way that this amendment is presented, it's presented allowing the study to go on as law enforcement encounters this new law and will then know what challenges they face as they look to enforce the law. We won't know all of those things until the law is in place.
Mr. CONYERS. Well, may I suggest that perhaps our responsibility as Federal legislators might be to determine the impact of this proposal on public safety before we pass it, not years later after we pass it.
Would the gentleman concede that that might be the more appropriate path that we normally take?
Mr. REICHERT. Yes, sir. That is what my amendment is intended to do, to gather that information so we can appropriately revise the current policies that may exist in police departments across the country and sheriff's offices across the country.
Mr. CONYERS. I thank the gentleman.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. REICHERT. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), the distinguished chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
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