600 U.S. Mayors Launch National Campaign to Defend Right of States to Decide Who Can Carry Concealed, Loaded Guns

Sep 12, 2011, 17:14 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

45,000 Americans Join Campaign - www.OurLivesOurLaws.org - To Oppose New Federal Mandate That Would Gut State Laws

74 Percent of Americans Believe States – Not Congress – Should Decide Who Can Carry a Concealed Gun, New Survey by Republican and Democratic Pollsters Shows

Major Police Organizations, Domestic Violence Experts, Prosecutors Reject Gun Lobby's "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity" Bill

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A broad coalition of mayors, police organizations, domestic violence experts, prosecutors and 45,000 Americans today announced a national effort to defeat Federal legislation that would strip states of their authority to set minimum standards for who may carry a concealed, loaded weapon within their borders. The campaign – www.ourlivesourlaws.org/ – was launched by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 600 Republican, Independent and Democratic mayors.  

H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, would force every state to honor every other state's permit to carry a concealed gun – no matter how lax the other state's standards. As a result, it would allow individuals to carry concealed, loaded weapons in public in states across America, even if the individuals do not meet the minimum public safety standards many states now have in place – such as safety training, age, or a clean arrest record.

"In most states, if you've been convicted of assault, or haven't completed a gun safety training program, you can't carry a concealed, loaded gun in public," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns co-chair Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "This bill would override those laws and make communities across the country less safe, which is why so many police and law enforcement organizations strongly oppose it, and why our bi-partisan coalition of mayors is launching this campaign to stop it."

The coalition also announced the results of new bipartisan poll conducted by Momentum Analysis and American Viewpoint on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, showing voters overwhelmingly oppose Washington's interference with states' rights to set their own standards for issuing concealed carry permits – 74 percent say instead that "each state should decide for themselves."

"State and local officials, and police who fight crime on the front lines, should be deciding how to best protect our communities – not the Washington gun lobby and their allies in Congress," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns co-chair Mayor Tom Menino.  "Forcing states to accept a new Federal mandate that needlessly undermines local laws and creates a weak, lowest-common-denominator policy for who can carry concealed, loaded guns would be irresponsible, shortsighted and dangerous."

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will meet to discuss the legislation H.R. 822 tomorrow morning. The Senate defeated a similar measure by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in 2009 when mayors, police organizations, state attorneys general and governors strongly objected.

The "Our Lives, Our Laws" Campaign

The "Our Lives, Our Laws" campaign launched today by Mayors Against Illegal Guns kicks off an online citizen petition calling on Congress to oppose H.R. 822. The website also highlights the overwhelming opposition to the bill among mayors, law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates for domestic violence victims, faith leaders and others.  

In less than five days, more than 45,000 Americans have signed the petition urging their elected officials to protect states' rights to set minimum safety standards for those who wish to carry concealed, loaded guns in public places.  The coalition will present the petition to members of Congress at the House Crime Subcommittee hearing tomorrow.  

The Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition has long believed that the issue of concealed carry regulation is one best left to cities and states.  State legislatures have intensely debated and ultimately decided their own standards for who can carry a loaded, concealed gun in their communities.  For example, 38 states do not issue permits to people who have been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors, like assault or sex crimes; 36 states do not issue permits to people under the age of 21; and 35 states require gun safety training, often including live fire drills or other proof of competency with a firearm. This legislation would override all of these standards, creating a nationwide lowest-common-denominator approach to public safety laws.

The bill also threatens the safety of police officers by making it far more difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal firearm possession. The bill fails to establish a national database or other mechanism that would make it possible for officers to verify an out-of-state permit, leaving them without any reliable way to be certain that someone with a loaded gun and one of dozens of types of out-of state permits is actually obeying the law.

H.R. 822 would also aid illegal gun traffickers by making it easier for them to transport the guns they sell to criminals without being detected by law enforcement. If a trafficker simply displays an out-of-state concealed carry permit, even if they have a trunk full of guns they brought from another state, a police officer would be obliged to let them go unless the trafficker was actually caught in the act of illegally selling a gun.

New Poll Shows Likely Voters, Including Gun Owners, Oppose Congressional Efforts to Override State Concealed Carry Laws

According to a new survey poll conducted by Momentum Analysis, a Democratic firm, and American Viewpoint, a Republican firm, Americans broadly oppose Washington's attempt to override state concealed carry laws.  When presented with a proposal describing the reciprocity scheme that H.R. 822 would put in place, voters were divided (35 percent in favor, 38 percent opposed).  But after hearing arguments both for and against the proposal, and when asked about the specific permit requirements that H.R. 822 would override, voters move to oppose national concealed carry reciprocity, with 74 percent saying states should decide for themselves.

"There is absolutely no mandate for Congress to take action weakening our gun laws," said Democratic pollster Margie Omero. "In fact, voters would prefer to see their state have more, not fewer requirements for concealed gun permits."

Two-thirds (66 percent) of voters do not want anyone to be able to carry a concealed in their state, if they fail to meet that the state's requirements.  And nearly two-thirds (64 percent) prioritize "allowing states to decide for themselves who should be allowed to carry a concealed gun within their borders" over "allowing people with concealed weapon permits in one state to legally bring their weapon to states across the country" (22 percent).  

Voters in gun-owning households had responses similar to voters overall, and were even more likely to support letting "each state decide for itself" (74 percent overall, 82 percent of gun-owning households, 87 percent of Republican voters) rather than letting "elected officials in Washington" decide who can carry a concealed gun.

"Voters prioritize states' rights over concealed weapon reciprocity," said Republican pollster Bob Carpenter. "Republicans and voters in gun households are even more likely to say states – and not Washington – should decide who can carry a concealed gun. This could make it challenging to garner Republican voters' support for reciprocity."

Voters – including those in gun-owning households – also showed overwhelming support for tougher basic safety requirements for concealed carry permits, which H.R. 822 would eliminate altogether in many states.  The poll tested a dozen requirements passed by some states, every one of which received majority support.  Voters strongly support state requirements such as "completing gun safety training" (86 percent strongly support), "not having multiple previous arrests" (70 percent), "having no previous arrests for domestic violence crimes" (70 percent) and "having no previous conviction for misdemeanor violent crimes or misdemeanor sex offenses" (67 percent).    

The poll of 1,000 likely 2012 voters was conducted on July 26-30, 2011, with 100 of the 1,000 interviews conducted among cell-only respondents.  The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

About Momentum Analysis

Momentum Analysis is a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm serving Democratic candidates and progressive organizations. Its clients include national party committees, labor organizations, non-profits, corporations, and candidates for office from City Council to US Senate. Margie Omero, the firm's founder and president, is a regular Huffington Post/pollster.com blogger, and has been named a "Mover and Shaker" by Campaigns & Elections Magazine and one of "50 Politicos to Watch" by Politico.

About American Viewpoint

American Viewpoint is one of the most widely respected public opinion research and strategic message consulting firms in the United States. Founded in 1985 by Linda DiVall, the company has established a national reputation for outstanding quantitative and qualitative research in politics, corporate affairs, public policy and government relations. American Viewpoint has advised Republican campaigns and groups, including McCain-Palin '08, Bush-Cheney '04, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Johnny Isakson.  Corporate clients have included AT&T, CBS News, International Paper and Pfizer.

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to over 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.

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns