Nationwide Coalition of U.S. Mayors Calls on Congress to Reject Effort to Strip State Authority to Decide Who Can Carry Concealed, Loaded Guns in Public
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National Advocacy Campaign Against Compelled Carry: www.OurLivesOurLaws.org
NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A coalition of more than 600 Republican, Democratic and Independent U.S. mayors today called on the Senate to reject efforts by gun lobby allies to quickly introduce and pass a measure that would override state laws determining who can carry concealed, loaded weapons in public places.
Legislation to impose national reciprocity for concealed weapon permits – called the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 822) – was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee last week and is expected to be approved by the House as early as next week. Senators are expected to try to attach a nearly identical measure to must-pass bills now on the Senate docket, including a series of appropriations measures and defense authorization legislation to be considered in the coming weeks.
The legislation would force nearly every state to recognize permits to carry hidden, loaded weapons issued by any other state, even if the carrier would not qualify for a local permit. In today's edition of USA Today, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition published an open letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and members of the Senate strongly opposing the Washington gun lobby's attempt to strip cities and states of their authority to set minimum standards for concealed carrying.
"States and cities across the country have always had the authority to decide whether some people are just too dangerous to carry a loaded, hidden gun in public," said coalition co-chair Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "This bill would take away that authority and force states to allow out-of-state permit holders who have records of domestic violence, have certain misdemeanor convictions, or haven't completed basic gun safety training to carry loaded guns in public. When it comes to public safety, Congress has no business telling states, cities and police how to do their jobs."
"Police put their lives on the line to protect us every day," said coalition co-chair Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "And when they encounter someone with a gun, they need certainty about the legality of that gun and whether the carrier is a danger to the public. This legislation would remove that certainty and replace it with chaos and confusion, because officers would have no way to verify that a permit is real. It undermines local laws, it undermines police and it undermines public safety."
The mayors' coalition led a successful fight to defeat a similar federal reciprocity mandate on the floor of the Senate in 2009 – the first time the National Rifle Association had been defeated in a recorded floor vote in five years.
Today, the coalition opposing the measure includes nearly all major national law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and many state police organizations; the American Prosecutors Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, representing 56 domestic violence prevention organizations nationwide, 2,000 shelters and the millions of families they serve.
Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, yesterday released a video statement opposing the measure. It is available at www.ourlivesourlaws.org/cory-booker.
Text of the Open Letter to Congress from Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Members of the U.S. Senate:
The Senate may soon consider dangerous legislation that would usurp the authority of states to set their own minimum standards for who can—and more importantly, who can't—carry a concealed, loaded gun in public. This forced concealed carry reciprocity legislation would require states to recognize permits issued in other states, even if those other states have far weaker standards.
We mayors strenuously oppose any federal attempt to strip cities and states of the authority to set our own public safety laws. Doing so would threaten the safety of our citizens by putting loaded guns in the hands of people who are too dangerous to qualify for a local permit. And it would put our police officers at risk by making it far more difficult to distinguish law-abiding gun owners from dangerous criminals.
Simply put, Congress should not be undercutting our state laws, our law enforcement, or our public safety.
Senators: We urge you not to gut your own state's public safety laws. Currently, 38 states deny concealed carry by people convicted of certain dangerous misdemeanors, 29 states deny concealed carry by alcohol abusers, and 35 states require applicants to complete gun safety training. All these laws would be eviscerated.
These basic standards matter. Today, a bipartisan coalition of 600 mayors, along with major police organizations, domestic violence experts, prosecutors and faith leaders, is asking you to stand with us to protect the public safety laws that your own states have adopted. The safety of our local communities and the lives of innocent Americans are on the line.
Where do you stand?
For more information, visit our website at www.ourlivesourlaws.org.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
About the Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 600. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.
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