Our country’s Founders laid out certain rights in our Constitution in order to empower the people, not the government. Certainly among the most fundamental rights we have as Americans is the right to keep and bear arms, as declared by the Second Amendment. As a gun owner myself and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, I am pleased to report that the House of Representatives has taken action to preserve Americans’ constitutional right and ensure that our background check system is functioning properly.
The House has passed H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, to enhance and standardize the protection of the Second Amendment by simply ensuring all law-abiding citizens who obtain concealed carry permits in their home states can exercise the right to protect themselves in any state. Our Second Amendment right doesn’t end when we cross the state line, and I believe individuals who meet the requirements for concealed carry in their home state should be allowed the same privileges in any state, of course provided that they obey the local concealed carry laws. That’s what H.R. 38 does.
This bill also seeks to ensure that our current National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is enforced and working properly. In the wake of the horrible shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we learned that the assailant had been allowed to legally purchase a firearm when he should not have been. If the system we have in place had worked, his time served in military prison for his history of domestic violence would have been properly reported into NICS by the U.S. Air Force, and he would have been prohibited him from obtaining such weapons. This oversight was unacceptable, deadly, and completely avoidable. That’s why H.R. 38 takes steps to hold federal agencies accountable for their responsibility to report information.
Some gun control advocates claim that this bill somehow makes it easier for dangerous, unqualified individuals to obtain and carry guns. That is absolutely not true. If a citizen is currently prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm, this bill does nothing to change that. On the other hand, others have claimed this bill makes it harder for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment right. That’s not true either. H.R. 38 does nothing to infringe on any law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, but rather seeks to ensure that our current laws are properly enforced.
Those of us who respect the Second Amendment and dedicate our careers to defending it will always fight to protect this fundamental right from those who would try to erode it. It is precisely because we want to preserve the Second Amendment for future generations that we must uphold and enforce our current laws designed to ensure that dangerous people cannot legally obtain weapons.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee that worked on this legislation, I’m proud that the House has taken this important action. I also appreciate the work of the National Rifle Association and other groups to help build support for this legislation. I hope the Senate takes up this bill quickly and sends it to the President’s desk. I will keep you posted as we move forward.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.