‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’ measure would gut public safety laws

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I served in Law enforcement for 27 years. Part of that time I served as Chief of Police for the Orlando Police Department. I witnessed and experienced a lot of things throughout my career, and one thing I saw all too often was my officers, who were good guys with guns, trying to stop bad guys with guns; guns the bad guys should have never possessed in the first place.

Good guys do amazing things every day. We all know, had it not been for the U.S. Capitol police officers on the scene at the baseball field when my colleague, and others were viciously attacked, the damage from the shooting would have been much worse.

{mosads}What we need to be doing in the wake of the Alexandria shooting is discussing how we can better protect our constituents and the law enforcement officers that protect us all.

The day of the shooting, House Republicans had scheduled a hearing to move forward legislation backed by the gun lobby that would make it easier for dangerous people to buy firearm silencers by removing silencers from the National Firearms Act, a public safety law which has regulated the sale of the deadliest firearms and gun accessories for nearly a century.

Relaxing the law would allow gun manufacturers to mass market silencers for the first time in 80 years, enabling people to buy silencers without any background check whatsoever – simply by finding an unlicensed seller online or at a gun show.

I understand from my nearly three decades of law enforcement experience that during active shooter situations, the distinctive sound of gunfire is often what alerts law enforcement to the location of a shooter.

During the Pulse night club shooting, people ran to safety because of the sound of gun fire. Silencers mask that distinctive sound, making it more difficult to identify shooters, and potentially making shootings even more deadly.

After the shooting, House Republicans postponed the hearing, and I certainly hope that they halt the legislation permanently.

But I’m not optimistic about it. Instead of taking their own advice to not exploit the shooting, the gun lobby and its voices in Congress appear to be using the tragedy in order to push for so-called “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” – the gun lobby’s top federal legislative priority, which would further profit gun manufacturers, gut our public safety laws, and make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs and keep us safe.

“Concealed Carry Reciprocity” does not create a national standard for who is allowed to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. It does the opposite. It forces every state to accept the standards of every other state, taking authority away from states and local law enforcement and ultimately making the weakest state’s standards the law of the land.

Consider that nearly a dozen states now have no permitting system whatsoever. In those states, people can concealed carry without having a permit, without undergoing gun safety training, and in some circumstances, without ever passing a background check. The states allow people with histories of domestic violence and recent convictions for violent crime to carry. That should not be forced on unwilling states.

People from different places coming to Orlando with guns and no way to verify their permit, or whether they have training or violent histories – that isn’t a way to keep our communities or our law enforcement officers safe. The law enforcement community knows this would sow chaos. After all, if everyone is carrying, and there are no carrying standards, how are police officers supposed to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys? That’s one reason why law enforcement organizations remain so opposed to the idea.

As Congress considers our public safety laws in the wake of this tragedy, and others, we ought to not view them through a political lens. We need help to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them: terrorists, felons and the mentally ill. We shouldn’t allow the gun lobby to exploit this tragedy to push their dangerous agenda.

Demings represents Florida’s 10th District.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill. 


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