A.G. Schneiderman Leads 10-State Coalition Fighting Race-To-The-Bottom Gun Laws
A.G. Schneiderman Leads 10-State Coalition Fighting Race-To-The-Bottom Gun Laws
NEW YORK – A coalitionof nine state attorneys general and one attorney general-elect led by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today urged the leadership of the U.S. Senate to reject “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act” and “The Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” laws would force states like New York, and the other co-signing states, to abandon their own gun laws by allowing out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms based on their home state's less safe laws, rather than those of the state they are entering.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Schneiderman won a major court victory in defense of New York State’s gun safety laws. In a unanimous decision in the case of Kachalsky, et al. v. Cacace, et al, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to New York's handgun licensing statute, ruling that the law requiring individuals to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry concealed handguns in public does not violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment.
In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the attorneys general today wrote that the bill would restrict their states’ ability to control who may and may not carry a concealed weapon within their borders, undermine the ability of police to verify the validity of gun permits, and allow gun traffickers to more easily bring illegal guns into their respective states.
“These two bills would force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by any other states, even those with poor oversight and weaker permitting standards,” the attorneys general wrote. “These bills would create a lowest common denominator approach to public safety that would endanger police and make it more difficult to prosecute gun traffickers.”
States cosigning with New York on the letter to the U.S. Senate leadership are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
A 2010 study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed that nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes came from just ten states, most with comparatively weak gun laws, indicating that weak gun laws in other states have already had an appreciable negative public safety impact on states like New York.Indeed, in 2011, approximately 68 percent of the traced guns recovered in connection with crimes committed in New York State originally came from outside the State.
Under the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act and the Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, if someone brings guns across state lines, authorities in the state where the guns are actually present would not be able to uniformly enforce their own carefully considered standards for concealed carry privileges. The signatory states have standards that are stricter than either federal law or the laws of a number of other states. For example, New York’s standards include a prohibition for those individuals who have been convicted of a “serious offense,” including felonies and certain misdemeanors; a minimum age requirement of 21 years old or honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces; broad discretion for law enforcement in licensing; and character, "proper cause," and residency requirements.
Additionally, New York requires every applicant for a handgun license to submit to a criminal background check and mental health review, restrictions essential to public safety. These precautions are not applied in all states, and would be undermined by statutes that provide for the ‘lowest-common-denominator’ as the rule of law for gun licenses.
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, S. 2188 and the Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, S. 2213 are now pending in Congress.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergsaid, “Concealed carry reciprocity would make it possible for those with criminal records, or those who have histories of violent or irresponsible behavior, to carry guns into cities and states that currently require concealed carry permit holders to meet minimum standards. And it would make it nearly impossible for police to quickly verify whether an out-of-state permit is valid, which could result in the detention of law-abiding gun owners – or, even worse, the release of individuals who carry guns to commit crimes. This is an important public safety matter, and we welcome the attorneys general to the broad coalition opposing the effort in Washington to remove safeguards that many states have adopted.”
Jackie Hilly, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, “New York requires mental health screening to get a concealed carry permit, and bars felons and people with violent misdemeanor convictions from getting permits, but many states lack such common sense restrictions. The attorneys general are right to oppose any effort that would allow violent criminals or mentally unbalanced individuals to legally carry concealed guns in New York.”
Dan Gross, President of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,“Most concealed carry laws strip law enforcement of the discretion to protect their communities from dangerous and violent people, which is what they take an oath to do and what we need them to do. And it's why I applaud the attorneys general for speaking out on behalf of their constituents against the dangerously ill-considered reciprocity legislation.”
Hilary O. Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, said, “More concealed guns on our city streets will result in more disputes escalating into tragedies. Many of the attorneys general who have signed onto this letter come from states with densely populated areas, and these states have enacted sensible laws to keep concealed weapons out of the wrong hands. Gun violence is currently the number one killer of African American men between the ages of 12 and 19, and gun related homicide continues to be a tragic and relentless problem throughout the African American community. The NAACP thanks Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his leadership on this issue and joins all nine attorneys general in opposing any law that would import weaker standards—and more concealed guns—from other states. This truly is a matter of life and death.”
The full text of the letter is below. (The letter can also be read here)
The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell
U.S. Senate Majority Leader U.S. Senate Republican Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building 317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
RE: Attorney General Opposition To S. 2188, “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act” (Begich-Manchin) and S. 2213, “The Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” (Thune-Vitter)
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:
We write to respectfully urge you and your caucuses to oppose S. 2188, “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act” and S. 2213, “The Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” These two bills would force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by any other states, even those with poor oversight and weaker permitting standards. These bills would create a lowest common denominator approach to public safety that would endanger police and make it more difficult to prosecute gun traffickers.
S. 2188 and S. 2213 trample on states’ rights by overriding our states’ legislative and regulatory authority to determine who can – and who cannot – carry hidden and loaded guns in public. For example, many states have established standards that go beyond federal law in order to keep concealed weapons out of the hands of violent misdemeanants, alcohol abusers, teenagers, and people who have not completed basic safety training. S. 2188 and S. 2213 would gut this framework, and impose the weakest state permitting and verification standards on all other states.
Under current law, states are free to enter into, refuse, or revoke concealed carry reciprocity agreements with other states. These agreements are often contingent on states having comparable permitting standards. For example, authorities in Nevada and New Mexico made the decision to stop recognizing carry permits issued by Utah, which does not require live-fire instruction as part of its training requirements. Nevada has also ended reciprocity with Florida, which only requires individuals to renew their permits every seven years. States would lose this discretion under forced reciprocity.
As Attorneys General, we are most troubled by the threat to public safety posed by local law enforcement’s inability to promptly verify out-of-state permits. Contrary to claims by proponents of national concealed carry reciprocity legislation, varying state standards make it nearly impossible for our law enforcement agencies to quickly determine if a carry permit from another state is valid. This further jeopardizes the safety of police and the public. In addition, there is no comprehensive national database or inquiry system that alerts law enforcement officers when a concealed carry permit is counterfeit, expired, or has recently been revoked.
In fact, some states also fail to adequately track their own permit issuances and revocations. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has confirmed it cannot determine when a state permit-holder breaks the law; recently enacted Wisconsin law prohibits law enforcement from accessing permitting information during traffic stops or for purposes of investigating potential criminal activity; and Florida issued permits to more than 1,400 people who previously pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, 216 people with outstanding warrants, 128 people with active domestic violence injunctions, and six registered sex offenders.
The police officers in our states are already putting their lives on the line when they stop potentially dangerous individuals on the street. Forcing these officers to conduct traffic stops and other police activity with no ability to authenticate every other state’s carry permits would pose an extraordinary and unnecessary risk.
Forced reciprocity is opposed by national organizations including: the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the Major Cities Chiefs Association, representing the police chiefs of 62 major U.S. cities; the National Network to End Domestic Violence, representing 56 state and territorial domestic violence coalitions; the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; as well as various state law enforcement associations and law enforcement leaders. Forced reciprocity is also opposed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 650 mayors who collectively represent 54 million Americans.
We urge you to stand up for America’s law enforcement community and oppose S. 2188 and S. 2213.
Eric T. Schneiderman
New York Attorney General
Kamala D. Harris
California Attorney General
Connecticut Attorney General
David M. Louie
Hawaii Attorney General
Illinois Attorney General
Maryland Attorney General
Martha M. Coakley
Massachusetts Attorney General
Catherine Cortez Masto
Nevada Attorney General
Oregon Attorney General
Pennsylvania Attorney General-Elect