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Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: September 8, 2017
Second Amendment Rights Don’t Stop at the State Line
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Washington, DC (Sept. 8, 2017) -

Protecting our constitutional rights is the greatest responsibility of any Member of Congress. This includes protecting the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding citizens to legally carry firearms to ensure safety for themselves and their family. This right, just like the other rights guaranteed to American citizens by the United States Constitution, should be respected and preserved. However, for folks in the Sixth District and communities throughout the country, a jumble of state and local concealed carry laws for firearms make it confusing for citizens to follow.

I have signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Introduced by Congressman Richard Hudson of North Carolina, this bipartisan legislation falls under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee, which I chair. The premise of H.R. 38 is simple – if you are eligible to carry a concealed firearm in your state of residence, you should be able to carry a concealed firearm in another state that allows individuals to do so. Your rights do not vanish when you cross the state line.

Today, Virginians are permitted to carry concealed firearms in some states, but not others. Without reciprocity, a Virginian carrying a concealed firearm while traveling to Pennsylvania would need to route the trip to avoid crossing Maryland’s borders. And a Pennsylvanian would have to be careful about crossing into Maryland or New York while carrying. Even if you are well-versed in each state’s laws, you can break the law just by making a wrong turn.

Some have expressed concerns that this bill would make it easier to buy guns and would allow folks to ignore state and local gun regulations. These accusations are off base. To be clear, this bill has nothing to do with gun purchases and will not alter or make the process easier for individuals who purchase them. If an individual is not federally permitted to possess a firearm, that would not change under this bill. Additionally, states will still determine regulations for carrying within their borders. H.R. 38 does not impede upon or change the authority of state and local governments to decide where citizens may or may not carry firearms.

Law-abiding citizens should not forfeit their Second Amendment rights simply by traveling to another state.  I strongly believe that our rights to keep and bear arms must be protected. This bill is an important step in helping ensure folks can legally carry concealed firearms to defend themselves. With more than 200 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, this bill has drawn growing support from lawmakers of both parties representing communities across the country. I look forward to working toward the passage of H.R. 38 in the House.

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