July 21, 2009

Senators, New Jersey Governor Denounce Dangerous Amendment that Would Put Communities at Risk for More Gun Violence

Amendment Would Allow Criminals to Carry Concealed Weapons Across State Lines

WASHINGTON, DC – Trying to prevent an increase of gun violence in America’s communities, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ) today denounced a proposed amendment by Republican Senator John Thune (R-ND) that would allow people, including some criminals and mentally ill individuals, to carry concealed weapons across state lines – even if the state prohibits that person from carrying a gun. The Thune amendment has the potential to increase gun violence in communities, put more police officers at risk and nullify state gun laws.

“Trumping state laws to allow concealed weapons to be carried by almost anybody in any state is an egregious threat to communities across the country. This amendment is another attempt by the gun lobby to put its radical agenda ahead of safety and security in our communities. We are going to fight to make sure New Jersey and other states have the right to protect their residents with common-sense laws and regulations,” stated Sen. Lautenberg, one of the Senate’s leading advocates in preventing gun violence.

“Too many times, for too long we have seen blood in our streets from senseless, pointless, lethal gun violence. Our charge is to end that violence, not add to it. There are too many guns on the street as it is, but there are also too many people too willing to use them. Let’s not make it easier for those who feel the need to conceal a weapon to carry it across state lines and into your neighborhood or my neighborhood,” stated Sen. Menendez.

“To gut the ability of individual states to determine who should be able to carry a concealed weapon makes no sense. It could reverse the dramatic success we’ve had in reducing crime in most all parts of America. Whether you are pro-gun or pro-gun control, this measure deserves to be defeated. We will do everything we can to stop this poisonous amendment from being enacted,” Schumer said.

“This amendment would obliterate all tough state standards that govern the right to carry a concealed weapon, and it would allow dangerous individuals to tote loaded weapons across state lines. It would even allow a person who has been denied a concealed weapons permit in their own state to go to another state, get a permit, and return to their state of origin with the right to carry concealed weapons. Public safety will be jeopardized if we allow the proliferation of loaded, concealed guns on our streets,” stated Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“The Defense Authorization bill is about making our country safer and more secure. The Thune amendment has the potential to do just the opposite: increase gun violence and make it easier for criminals to carry concealed weapons. Police chiefs and sheriffs across the country oppose Senator Thune’s amendment because it would undermine public safety and open up new loopholes for criminals to exploit,” said Reed, a former Army Ranger.

“As a former Attorney General for Rhode Island, I’m deeply concerned that this amendment would undercut common-sense standards enacted in many states, and would create a danger to the public as well as substantial difficulties for local law enforcement officials,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

“Throughout New Jersey as in other states across our nation, we have been fighting a war against violent crime. More guns on our streets, especially in the hands of potential criminals, do not make us safer. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce violence. This proposed federal law would effectively nullify years of hard work aimed at curbing firearm possession by individuals who pose a threat to our society,” said Governor Jon S. Corzine.

Senator Thune’s amendment would allow anyone who has a permit to carry concealed firearms in any one state to bring those concealed firearms into 47 other states, even if that person cannot legally possess a gun in the state they are entering. The Thune amendment would not affect Wisconsin or Illinois because those states do not allow concealed carry under any circumstances. Currently, each state has the ability to make its own decisions about what standards and rules should apply to concealed firearms:

• 12 states give law enforcement agencies discretion about whether to issue a permit to a particular applicant who may be dangerous.

• 18 states prohibit alcohol abusers from obtaining a concealed carry permit;

• 19 states require the completion of a gun safety program prior to issuing a permit; and

• 24 states prohibit persons convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes from carrying concealed firearms, including Pennsylvania, which bars carrying by those who have been convicted of impersonating a law enforcement officer.

The Thune amendment would nullify those standards and take away the rights of states to set their own standards for obtaining permits to carry concealed weapons.

Consequently, the Thune amendment would have a dramatic effect on the nation’s safety. It would allow people to find the state with the lowest standards for gun purchases, get a license to carry concealed weapons there and then travel the country with loaded hidden guns. It would help gun traffickers transport weapons across state lines. It would also hamper law enforcement in many states by exposing police to a new population of concealed carry permit holders, despite the fact that local law enforcement know nothing about these individuals, had no role in issuing their permits and have no mechanism to verify their permits.

From May 2007 to April 2009, individuals licensed to carry concealed handguns have committed 51 homicides, including the killings of 7 police officers.


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