A.G. Schneiderman To U.S. Senate: Defeat Bill That Could Increase Gun Trafficking In New York

Bill Allows Non-Residents to Carry Concealed Guns in NY Without Following NYS Licensing Laws; Could Be Voted On This Week

AG’s Letter To Senate Leaders Warns Bill Would Increase Threat Of Gun Violence, Compromise Law Enforcement Efforts To Keep NY Safe

 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today urged the leadership of the U.S. Senate to reject the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which would force states like New York to abandon its 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 Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Schneiderman today wrote that the bill --- which published reports indicate could be voted on as soon as this week -- would restrict New York State’s ability to control who may and may not carry a concealed weapon in all or parts of the State, undermine the ability of police to verify the validity of gun permits, and allow gun traffickers to more easily bring illegal guns into the State.

“The proposed legislation would strip New York and other states of the authority to determine who may carry a concealed, loaded weapon within their borders,” Attorney General Schneiderman wrote. “In so doing, it would increase the threat of gun violence against New Yorkers, compromise the safety of our law enforcement officers and their ability to crack down on illegal firearms, and undermine the considered judgment of this State as to the public safety needs of its own citizens.”

A 2010 study showed that nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes came from just ten states, most with comparatively weak gun laws, indicating that weak gun laws in other states have already had an appreciable negative public safety impact on states like New York. Indeed, in 2009, more than 92 percent of the traced guns recovered in connection with crimes committed in New York City originally came from outside the State.

Under the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, if someone brings guns from another state into New York, it would not be able to uniformly enforce its own carefully considered standards for concealed carry privileges, which are stricter than federal law and the laws of a number of other states. Those standards include a prohibition for those individuals who have been convicted of a “serious offense,” including felonies and certain misdemeanors; a minimum age requirement of 21 years old or honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces; broad discretion for law enforcement in licensing; and character, "proper cause," and residency requirements. 

Additionally, New York requires every applicant for a handgun license to submit to a criminal background check and mental health review, restrictions essential to public safety. These precautions are not applied in all states, and would be undermined by statutes that provide for the ‘lowest-common-denominator’ as the rule of law for gun licenses. 

The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (S.Amdt. 1618 (111th) & H.R. 822 (112th)) was marked up in the House Judiciary Committee last Friday, has 245 co-sponsors, and will likely head to the Senate shortly. According to reports, it may also be included as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill this week. 

The full text of the letter is below.

October 19, 2011

Senator Harry Reid                                             
Majority Leader                                        
522 Hart Senate Office Building                        
Washington, DC 20510                                   
Fax: (202) 224-7327                                            

Senator Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
317 Russell Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510   
Fax: (202) 224-2499

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Leader McConnell:

I am writing to respectfully urge you and your caucuses to oppose the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (S.Amdt. 1618 (111th) & H.R. 822 (112th)), which may be before the Senate in short order. This legislation would have a devastating effect on the ability of law enforcement in New York to combat the scourge of gun violence. Specifically, it would force nearly every state in the Union -- including those, like New York, with reasonable restrictions on firearm ownership and transport, that are essential to public safety -- to abandon its 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.

This would create a lowest common denominator approach to public safety that would increase the threat to New Yorkers, impede the ability of law enforcement to do its job, and undermine the will of our citizens as expressed through their duly elected state legislators. Stated simply, it would make the people of my State -- where we have long-held standards intended to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them -- less safe.

Congress should be passing legislation to ensure that there are fewer potentially dangerous people on our streets with concealed, loaded handguns -- not legislation, like the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which undermines state law enforcement efforts to combat gun-related violence. A 2010 study showed that nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes came from just ten states, most with comparatively weak gun laws, indicating that weak gun laws in other states have already had an appreciable negative public safety impact on states like New York. Indeed, in 2009, more than 92% of the traced guns recovered in connection with crimes committed in New York City originally came from outside the State. Unlike New York, which requires every applicant for a handgun license to submit to both a fingerprint-based criminal history background check and a review of his or her mental health records, many states require only one of these two critical background checks, and some require neither.  

Forcing us to honor gun permits from other states will dramatically increase the threat posed by firearms in our State by restricting our ability to control who may and may not carry a concealed weapon in all or parts of the State, undermining the ability of police to verify the validity of gun permits (as no national database exists) and allowing gun traffickers to more easily bring illegal guns into the State.

New York has, through its elected representatives, made reasoned judgments about the ability of its citizens to carry concealed firearms based on its own assessment of the dangers posed by these weapons and the particular public safety needs of its residents. Similar public safety concerns form the basis of New York's longstanding ban on assault weapons and its statutory requirement that background checks be conducted at all gun shows in the State. This legislation would strip New York and other states of the authority to determine who may carry a concealed, loaded weapon within their borders. In so doing, it would increase the threat of gun violence against New Yorkers, compromise the safety of our law enforcement officers and their ability to crack down on illegal firearms, and undermine the considered judgment of this State as to the public safety needs of its own citizens.

For all these reasons, I strongly urge you to oppose the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Eric T. Schneiderman
Attorney General
New York

 

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