Boxer, Feinstein: Please support H.R. 822

I am writing to urge you to support and vote for the passage of H.R. 822, the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.”

The bill enhances Americans’ right to self-defense by enabling millions of permit holders to exercise their Constitutionally-protected right to self-defense while traveling outside their home states. H.R. 822 would require states to recognize each others’ lawfully-issued carry permits, just as they recognize driver’s licenses, marriages, and carry permits held by armored car guards. Thus, it is fully in line with the full faith and credit clause of Article IV, Section 1.

Since November, the Senate has failed to take any significant action on this bill.

H.R. 822 recognizes the significant impact of the landmark cases, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), which found that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and that the protections of the Second Amendment extend to infringements under state law.

Today, 49 states have laws permitting concealed carry, in some circumstances. Forty states, accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. population, have right-to-carry laws. Thirty-six of those have “shall issue” permit laws (including Alaska and Arizona, which also allow carrying without a permit), two have fairly administered “discretionary issue” permit laws, and Vermont (along with Alaska and Arizona) allows carrying without a permit. (Eight states have restrictive discretionary issue laws.)

Citizens with carry permits are more law-abiding than the general public. Only 0.01% of nearly 1.2 million permits issued by Florida have been revoked because of firearm crimes by permit holders. Similarly low percentages of permits have been revoked in Texas, Virginia, and other right-to-carry states that keep such statistics. Right-to-carry is widely supported by law enforcement officials and groups.

States with right-to-carry laws have lower violent crime rates. On average, right-to-carry states have 22 percent lower total violent crime rates, 30 percent lower murder rates, 46 percent lower robbery rates, and 12 percent lower aggravated assault rates, compared to the rest of the country. The seven states with the lowest violent crime rates are right-to-carry states. (Data: FBI.)

Crime declines in states with right-to-carry laws. Since adopting right-to-carry in 1987, Florida’s total violent crime and murder rates have dropped 32 percent and 58 percent, respectively. Texas’ violent crime and murder rates have dropped 20 percent and 31 percent, respectively, since enactment of its 1996 right-to-carry law. (Data: FBI.)

The right of self-defense is fundamental, and has been recognized in law for centuries. The Declaration of Independence asserts that “life” is among the unalienable rights of all people. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms for “security.”

The laws of all states and the constitutions of most states recognize the right to use force in self-defense. The Supreme Court has stated that a person “may repel force by force” in self-defense, and is “entitled to stand his ground and meet any attack made upon him with a deadly weapon, in such a way and with such force” as needed to prevent “great bodily injury or death.” (Beard v. United States (1895))

Congress affirmed the right to own guns for “protective purposes” in the Gun Control Act (1968) and Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (1986). In 1982, the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution described the right to arms as “a right of the individual citizen to privately possess and carry in a peaceful manner firearms and similar arms.”

The passage of this bill is especially important to Californians, whose carry permits are currently not recognized in other states.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me.

Greg Raven