Thursday, July 23, 2009

Victory! Senate Rejects National Hidden Handgun Amendment!

In a great victory for gun violence prevention advocates, the U.S. Senate rejected dangerous legislation that would have forced states to accept concealed weapons permits issued by other states, even if those other states have far weaker laws. NECPGV applauds the thirty-nine Senators who stood up for public safety and voted to successfully defeat the Thune Amendment.

The Senate voted to defeat the Thune Amendment (No. 1618) to the Defense Authorization bill (S. 1390) co-sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA). The amendment would have reduced concealed carry permit regulations to the lowest common denominator and would have had an extreme impact on the three New England states that do not have reciprocity agreements with any other state.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have very strict requirements for issuing concealed weapons permits and do not recognize permits from any other state. Individuals wishing to carry concealed weapons must apply directly to these states for a permit. The Thune Amendment would have gutted these safety laws. It should be noted that Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have some of the lowest firearm death rates in the nation.

It was extremely frustrating to listen to the debate in the Senate as Senators Thune, Vitter, and others kept referring to ten and twenty-year-old research in an effort to validate their erroneous claims. They were quick to cite these old studies but neglected to reference the numerous studies that followed and drew into question the original claims. Gary Kleck’s claim of 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year has been totally and thoroughly discredited (for one example see Survey Research and Self-Defense Gun Use: An Explanation of Extreme Overestimates, David Hemenway, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1997) but that didn’t stop the Senators from repeatedly throwing out this bogus number. Ten years later research papers are still be written debunking John Lott’s writings on concealed carry laws (January, 2009, Journal of the American Institute for Economic Research, Yet Another Refutation of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis, Ian Ayres and John Donohue). But a decade of research on why Lott’s numbers don’t work was meaningless to Senators Thune and Vitter who continued to cling to the old, dusty, disproved material.

Jeers to the three New England Senators who, once again, continued to tow the line for the gun lobby. Senators Snowe and Collins from Maine and Senator Gregg from New Hampshire all voted to gut and trample states’ rights and force communities to accept hidden, loaded guns in family-friendly places, putting our law enforcement officials and our communities at greater risk of violence.

Three cheers for the rest of the Senators from New England who had the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and voted for our public safety. Many, many thanks go to Vermont Senators Leahy and Sanders, New Hampshire Senator Shaheen, Rhode Island Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Massachusetts Senator Kerry, and Connecticut Senators Lieberman and Dodd.