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Public Statements

Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I want to speak today about the series of votes that are going to be taking place this afternoon on gun rights. I wanted to start off by telling a little story and explain why there are some difficulties with some of those amendments that are here.

I had a person in Cheyenne come to me and say: I advertised a gun I wanted to sell. The guy was from southern Colorado, so he had to drive about 300 miles. But he was former FBI and had a concealed carry permit. He was willing to drive up to Cheyenne and wanted to do it the right way--both of them wanted to do it the right way.

The person from Colorado was willing to pay the fee for doing a gun check. The person in Cheyenne arranged for a federally licensed dealer to do that. So they met at the gun store with the gun. Of course, credentials as a former FBI agent is probably good enough to get through a gun check. Concealed carry permit, there is reciprocity in Wyoming for that. They did not think there would be any problem. They looked at it and put it into the system and got word back that he would know in 5 days. Well, it is a long trip to get a gun. The person had a gun that was just like it. He was convinced of the credentials, so they went to his house and finished the transaction. The fellow from Colorado went home. The fellow from Cheyenne went down to retrieve his other gun. He found out that it is now in the Federal system. So he can have a background check done on himself to get his own gun back.

So there are difficulties with the gun check. They are not immediate. There is not a computer that immediately says: This person is not in there so go ahead and sell them a gun. It can be a 5-day process, which, for a 3-day gun show can be a bit of a problem, or even a shorter one than that.

I want to talk a little more broadly about gun rights because the Senate will be voting on proposals today that affect rights not created by the law but, rather, were created by the Constitution that last a lot longer than anything we do in this body. Wyoming is a State of gun owners. A large number of Wyoming residents grow up learning to respect and lawfully use firearms.

As a matter of fact, many schools and youth organizations build hunter safety and gun safety into their curriculums so that young people become familiar with the responsibilities of gun ownership at an early age. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a majority of Wyoming residents have called on me to oppose any legislation that puts additional restrictions on the freedoms they enjoy and use daily.

I have been saying for some time that the bill before the Senate does not focus on the problem. There is no doubt that we need to do more to curb the senseless acts of violence which continue to occur in this country.

One of the things we need is parents to be more careful and more repetitive at telling their kids it is not right to kill people, it is not even right to bully them, and it is definitely not right for them to kill themselves. Until we can get that message across to our kids, I hope that we do not rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody feel comfortable that all of the problems are taken care of. They will not be.

The Senate should focus on making sure current laws are enforced; they are not. Finally, our Nation and its communities should be doing more to foster the idea that life has to be respected. However, the problem with several of the proposals we will vote on today is that they add to programs with track records of failure.

Additionally, I oppose limiting the rights of gun owners to transfer their firearms to their neighbor or loan hunting rifles to their family members. The underlying bill the Senate is debating would restrict that right in many areas and would only make gun ownership more burdensome on lawful citizens.

My colleagues in other States may not realize this, but in Wyoming guns are not used just for self-defense and recreation. They are a tool. Ask the rancher who uses a rifle to defend his livestock from predation or the outfitter who uses a gun to protect clients in the back country.

Firearms do have everyday uses in Wyoming. Sometimes it is necessary to transfer or loan a gun to a nephew, a niece, or an employee. But under what is being considered, that right may be severely infringed. I do not condone acts of gun violence. I am a father and a grandfather and will do everything I can to keep guns out of the wrong hands. However, I am not willing to infringe on the constitutional right of lawful gun owners when the laws already designed to protect us are being unenforced.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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