Letter: Federal Concealed Carry Gun Legislation Would Override CT’s Stringent Gun Laws

Submitted by Martin Buss of Greenwich, Sept 21, 2017

Charlottesville, and the horrible tragedy and divisive rhetoric that followed, will be forever in our thoughts. We will remember this event as we remember other “once in a lifetime” events such as the assassination of JFK or the moon landing. And so we should.

However, this is not about Charlottesville. This danger is nearer to home. It is about our own personal safety, and that of our loved ones. A pair of bills, should they become law and now making their way through the US House and Senate, could severely endanger us all. And they will, unless more of us make our voices heard.

To explain: backed by the NRA, more than 200 House Republicans (but just three Democrats) are co-sponsoring a bill (H.R. 38) known by the tortuous legal term as the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.” Senate Republicans are promulgating an almost identical bill (S. 446) but embellished with the high-sounding, though deliberately misleading, additional word the “Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.” Why misleading? Because no court has found a constitutional right to carry firearms outside the home.

This potential legislation is very dangerous to our personal safety for one simple reason. It will override Connecticut’s stringent requirements to carry guns in public by forcing Connecticut to recognize the concealed carry permits of all out-of-state gun-toting individuals, regardless of how lax are the other states’ permitting requirements.

All concerned citizens must resist this to the maximum extent possible by contacting their members of Congress telling them they oppose “concealed carry reciprocity.” Connecticut’s Congressional delegation has taken a strong stand against the bills, but we need to show them our support.

Here’s why it’s so important. Connecticut has strong gun laws that keep us all safe. I will come to why this is the case in a moment but, first, I want to totally debunk an unfortunate, deeply embedded article of faith for the gun lobby, that more guns cause less crime.

The “economist” John Lott popularized this canard in 1998, with his book “More Guns, Less Crime.” The NRA, and scores of “gun huggers,” have adopted it as an unassailable truth, almost as an inescapable law of nature similar to night follows day. In fact, as the recent eclipse has proven, night does not always follow day and, likewise, more guns do not lead to less crime.

On the contrary, a recent exhaustive study of 37 years of data, backed by sophisticated statistical techniques, from a team at Stanford University finds no support for Lott’s theory that more guns lead to less crime. On the contrary: more guns lead to more crime.

The Stanford team analyzed authoritative government statistics from 1977 to 2014. It found that states with stricter gun laws saw crime fall by 42% during the period. More telling, perhaps, was their second conclusion that this drop was more than four times – yes! this is not a typo – four times the decrease seen in states with looser gun laws, and specifically what is known as a “right to carry” concealed guns.

And therein lies the problem for the safety of all of us! The two concealed carry reciprocity bills now going through Congress will not make us safer. They will have the reverse effect, increasing our exposure to gun violence. And it is straightforward to understand why.

Connecticut’s permit to carry in public includes additional safety measures beyond what is required to simply keep a gun in the home. One of the most important is the suitability criterion that allows local chiefs of police to deny a permit based on knowledge they have that may not be revealed by standardized background checks.

However, there are dozens of other sates that have far, far more relaxed views about guns. Indeed, there are some states that, at best, have the most rudimentary requirements as to whom can carry a gun outside the home. Some are so lax as not to require any training at all. In comparison, Connecticut and 30 other states, require safety training. Some 20 of these, along with the District of Colombia, mandate live-fire training as well. Under H.R. 38 all of these safety conscious states, including Connecticut, would be forced to permit individuals to carry a concealed weapon in their state, without demonstrating even the most rudimentary competence in using a firearm.

The assault on “states’ rights” is even more extreme under the House bill. It would allow a Connecticut resident who couldn’t pass our permit requirements to obtain a permit from a state with lax requirements, and use that to legally carry in Connecticut.
There are at least another half dozen absurdities in the proposed legislation, but I can’t go into them all here. Suffice it to say, federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity is insane. Over the past decade, gun violence in the U.S. has taken nearly 2,000 times more lives than domestic terrorist attacks – yes! 2,000 TIMES. But yet ideologues, aided and abetted by the N.R.A., are on the cusp of making this situation even worse.

All of us concerned about personal safety should oppose these insane bills by contacting our Members of Congress. And never forget that more guns make us LESS safe. To repeat, LESS safe and not more safe. And don’t let the gun lobbyists tell you otherwise.

Martin Buss
Greenwich, CT