News & Politics

New York AG Takes On “Reciprocity” Gun Bill

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As it currently stands, the Second Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens the right to own firearms. But each state is permitted to place its own restrictions on the types of firearms — and the manner in which they’re possessed — that people are allowed to own.

A bill making its way through Congress would grant “reciprocity” for gun owners in states where they don’t actually live. In other words, if you can carry a concealed handgun under Ohio law, an Ohio resident can carry a concealed weapon in New York — regardless of New York’s gun laws.

The bill is designed to keep gun owners from getting arrested in other states where gun laws might be different than they are in the state in which they live. But New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ain’t havin’ it.

Schneiderman is leading a coalition of attorneys general who oppose “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act” and “The Respecting States
Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” which he says “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.”

In a letter to Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the
attorneys general expressed their concern 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.”

Scheniderman says, that in 2011, about 68 percent of guns
recovered in connection with crimes committed in New York State
originally came from outside the state. That said, all of those guns found their way to New York without the help of a reciprocity law.

See the attorneys general’s letter below.

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.

Sincerely,

Eric T. Schneiderman

New York Attorney General

Kamala D. Harris

California Attorney General

George Jepsen

Connecticut Attorney General

David M. Louie

Hawaii Attorney General

Lisa Madigan

Illinois Attorney General

Douglas F. Gansler

Maryland Attorney General

Martha M. Coakley

Massachusetts Attorney General

Catherine Cortez Masto

Nevada Attorney General

Ellen Rosenblum

Oregon Attorney General

Kathleen Kane

Pennsylvania Attorney General-Elect

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