You’ve heard it before: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This was the case at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, when a law-abiding citizen shot and deterred a disturbed murderer, almost certainly preventing further death. After the tragedy, every American had the same reaction – why did this happen and how can we stop it from happening again?
For one, this is a question of culture and mental health as much as anything, which is why I’ve worked and will continue to work to reform our mental health system. Last year, the House Energy and Commerce Committee led the way to get the most transformational mental health reform in 50 years signed into law. Not only did we provide resources and update laws to expand access to care, but we also improved the National Violent Death Reporting System to help track violent deaths and illuminate ways to prevent gun violence.
Additionally, existing laws should have prevented the suspect from legally purchasing a gun if they had been properly enforced. That shows us we need to take a look at what laws we have on the books and work to enforce these common-sense policies.
Finally, we must ensure law-abiding citizens can protect themselves. That’s where my bill, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38) comes into play. Currently, the hodgepodge of concealed carry reciprocity laws and agreements between states is confusing, causing some law-abiding concealed carry permit holders to innocently and unknowingly break the law and suffer arrest, while preventing others from carrying over state lines at all. My bill is a simple, common sense solution – it will affirm that law-abiding citizens who are qualified to carry concealed firearms in one state can also carry in other states that allow residents to do so.
This is a simple application of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution requiring that states give “full faith and credit” to the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” This clause allows your driver’s license to be recognized by all 50 states, and there is no sound reason why it should not apply to concealed carry permits as well. This critical piece of legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee with strong support, and I look forward to continuing this momentum and bringing the bill to the House floor as soon as possible.
This is one of the most important gun measures in Congress – ever. The public agrees. According to a June 2016 survey (by the liberal New York Times, no less), an overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity – 73 percent to be exact.
Despite this overwhelming support, the Left has waged an all-out war against it. Anti-Second Amendment crusader Michael Bloomberg has vowed to spend $25 million to stop it. Manhattan’s top prosecutor has made the bizarre comments that the bill is supported by ISIS and that it will turn cities into the “Wild West.”
All of these statements are false, but it shows the Left is resorting to the politics of emotion and fear because the facts simply don’t back up their claims. Nothing in H.R. 38 prevents a municipality or state from enacting restrictions on where, when, and how people can lawfully carry in their jurisdiction.
And H.R. 38 will not arm criminals or dangerous individuals. In fact, there is a specific provision in my bill that excludes any individual who is prohibited by federal law from “possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm” – including criminals convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, criminals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and individuals subject to a restraining order for harassment, stalking, or threatening.
And my bill doesn’t make it any easier to buy a gun. It has nothing to do with the purchase of guns, it would not alter access to guns, and it would not change the federal law requiring background checks before purchasing guns.
The public understands these facts. They know my bill is about empowering law-abiding citizens with the ability to protect themselves from criminals. It’s time to make it a reality.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., represents North Carolina’s 8th District. He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the author of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38).