Submitted by Bruce Colbath, East Hampton
On January 3, 2017, US Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) proposed a “gun rights expansion” bill, (H.R. 38, The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill of 2017). Our Congressman, Lee Zeldin, co-sponsored this ill-conceived bill which, not surprisingly, is strongly supported by the NRA. To summarize the bill and to trivialize its impact, Mr. Hudson’s website asks, “Your driver’s license works in every state, why not your concealed carry permit?” In the world of Mr. Hudson and Mr. Zeldin, this bill should be seen as little more than a matter of convenience for gun owners. Indeed, Mr. Zeldin said so much when questioned about his support of this bill during his recent telephonic “town hall.” However, we all know the difference between guns and cars and there are elements in this national proposal that endanger all New Yorkers.
To provide background, while all 50 states allow their residents to carry concealed weapons, currently, 10 have enacted permit-less concealed carry laws (meaning no background checks or other regulation). New York regulates concealed carry permits, requiring training and rejecting applicants with impaired mental capacity or illness, certain criminal convictions and other criteria. The Federal law championed by Mr. Zeldin, if passed, would require New York (as well as every other state) to honor concealed weapon permits from every other state, as well as allow gunbearers from states not requiring permits. The upshot is that the bill would allow anyone with a concealed weapon, permitted or not, to bring that weapon into New York, regardless of whether that person could have obtained a concealed carry permit under New York law. The bill would also allow concealed guns in all national parks and in New York schools, as carriers would not be subject to the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. Additionally, by sponsoring the bill, Mr. Zeldin supports language that would allow gun owners to sue municipalities, police forces, or business owners who seek to prohibit concealed weapons on their premises. Indeed, the bill would put police in danger of being sued even if they attempted to verify a permit.
It should come as no surprise that numerous law enforcement agencies have denounced concealed carry reciprocity, including the sixty-six largest law enforcement organizations in the country. Mr. Zeldin’s legislative priorities purportedly include a promise to help keep our communities safer. In pushing H.R. 38, Mr. Zeldin thumbs his nose at that promise, our law enforcement agencies and us.
I am not opposed to guns. My brother and I grew up in rural New Jersey with guns in our home. We learned how to handle guns safely and hunted with our dad until urbanization took over our hunting grounds. But this bill portends danger and could compromise the safety of innocent New Yorkers. The Second Amendment will not be endangered if this bill does not pass.
Last year, Mr. Hudson also tried to foist a reciprocity bill, which many law enforcement agencies also opposed. It failed. H.R. 38 should fail as well. Please speak out against H.R. 38 while you can.