WASHINGTON - July 13 - America's major gun violence prevention organizations--Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Freedom States Alliance, Legal Community Against Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Violence Policy Center--today issued the following joint statement expressing their outrage that legislation could be considered this week in the U.S. Senate to dramatically weaken state regulations concerning the carrying of concealed handguns in public:
"S. 845, the erroneously titled ‘Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009,' would create a national system for the carrying of concealed handguns, commonly referred to as CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) licenses. The bill would allow individuals with state-issued CCW licenses to carry their handguns in any state that issues concealed handgun licenses--today the vast majority of states.
"It is an outrage that in a year thus far defined by gun violence--from massacres, to the murder of police, to hate crimes--the U.S. Senate is preparing to consider a bill that would dramatically weaken federal and state gun laws. The practical effect of the legislation would be to reduce concealed carry permit regulations to the lowest common denominator. Currently, many states have weak laws and issue residents permits after only a simple computerized background check.
"This year, there have already been three confirmed mass shootings committed by concealed carry permit holders. In April, Richard Poplawski ambushed four Pittsburgh police officers, fatally shooting three and injuring one. In March, CCW holder Michael McLendon killed 11 people, including the wife of a deputy sheriff, before taking his own life following a gun battle with police in Alabama. In February, CCW holder Frank Garcia killed four people in a shooting rampage in upstate New York.
"Concealed carry laws do not, as their proponents argue, aid police and enhance public safety. Instead, they threaten law enforcement and arm criminals. States should be acting to repeal these laws instead of Congress moving to expand their deadly reach.
"Research by the Violence Policy Center found that from 1996 to 2000, Texas concealed handgun license holders were arrested for weapon-related offenses at a rate 81 percent higher than that of the general population of Texas, aged 21 and older.
"In 2007, the 'Florida Sun-Sentinel' conducted an exhaustive review of the operation of Florida's concealed carry law--the model for most permissive state concealed handgun laws. The paper found more than 1,400 people who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felony charges yet qualified for concealed carry licenses because of a loophole in the law. In December of last year, authorities in Tennessee reported that 200 hundred state residents who have permits to carry concealed handguns could have their permits revoked or suspended because they have active restraining orders against them.
"Under S. 845, people who obtain a CCW permit under such flawed systems would be free to carry their guns in any state that issues concealed carry licenses.
"In the midst of an epidemic of gun violence, the American people require serious efforts to reform our weak gun laws, not misguided attempts to appease the powerful gun lobby. The Senate Judiciary Committee should commit today to holding a hearing on real measures to reduce gun violence--like closing the gun show loophole in the Brady background check system, which allows criminals to buy guns from private sellers at gun shows."