Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38).
Chairman Goodlatte: The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In District of Columbia v. Heller, the United States Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense. Further, the Court concluded that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation” and that “central to” this right is “the inherent right of self-defense.” Finally, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” as protected under the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states.
H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, would ensure these time-honored rights extend to all law-abiding Americans. We know that citizens who carry a concealed handgun are not only better prepared to act in their own self-defense, but also in the defense of others. For instance, in 2015, an Uber driver who possessed a concealed carry permit witnessed Everardo Custodio firing into a crowd of people. The driver pulled out a handgun and fired six shots at Custodio, hitting him several times, according to court records. Responding officers found Custodio lying on the ground, bleeding. No other injuries were reported. Without this citizen’s quick thinking and actions, who knows how many could have fallen victim to this shooter.
Likewise, in 2014, at a Philadelphia area hospital, Richard Plotts shot and killed the psychiatric caseworker with whom he was meeting. He also shot and wounded his psychiatrist, Lee Silverman. Silverman, however, returned fire, and incapacitated Potts. Delaware County D.A. Jack Whelan stated that, “If the doctor did not have a firearm, (and) the doctor did not utilize the firearm, he’d be dead today, and I believe that other people in that facility would also be dead.” Police Chief Donald Molineux echoed the D.A. by stating that he “believe[d] the doctor saved lives.” Plotts had an additional 39 unspent rounds of ammunition when he was arrested.
It’s not just anecdotal evidence that supports passing this important piece of legislation. A 2013 peer-reviewed study in Applied Economic Letters, found that between 1980 and 2009, “states with more restrictive concealed carry laws had gun-related murder rates that were 10% higher.” A little over three years ago, amidst an increase in crime, Detroit Chief of Police Larry Craig said permitted concealed weapons are “a deterrent,” and “Good Americans with concealed permit licenses translates into crime reduction.” Also, a 2013 survey of 15,000 current and retired police officers found that more than 90% of them support the concealed carry of guns by civilians.
H.R. 38 maintains the right of each state to determine permitting requirements but allows citizens who meet the qualifications for concealed carry in their home states to carry in any state they may be travelling in as long as they follow the local concealed carry laws.
Finally, I want people to remember that this bill will not arm criminals. If someone is a criminal who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm, nothing in this bill would allow that person to purchase or possess a firearm, let alone carry one in a concealed fashion. That is currently illegal and will remain illegal under this bill. I strongly believe the way to combat gun violence is not to infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens, but to enforce the laws against criminals. This bill is about the simple proposition that law abiding Americans should be able to exercise their right to self-defense even when they cross out of their state’s borders. That is their Constitutional right.
I commend Congressman Hudson for introducing this vital legislation, to protect our cherished Constitutional rights, and the lives of our fellow Americans. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill.