Sen. Chuck Schumer is criticizing proposed federal legislation that would let Americans from states with looser gun laws carry concealed firearms in more restrictive states like New York.
Under the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, now being considered in the House and the Senate, states would essentially treat gun permits like driver’s licenses: A permit valid in one state would be valid in all American jurisdictions.
Schumer said it’s “the height of absurdity and arrogance” that a lawmaker in a state “where there are no standards” can effectively set gun policy for a densely populated place like New York City.
“This means that our laws are abdicated,” Schumer told Newsday. “This is about the lowest I’ve seen.”
Schumer, who says he doesn’t own a gun, but won National Rifle Association sharpshooter honors at summer camp, added: “Let our New York police determine who needs a gun, not the state of Wyoming. ... I think New Yorkers have a lot more faith in their police than in an NRA-owned legislator.”
Backers of the bills point to the experience of duly licensed but uninformed out-of-towners in a place like New York City who find themselves at risk of arrest on a felony gun possession charge that carries a 3 1⁄2-year prison term.
New York City makes carrying a concealed firearm virtually impossible, even for people with no criminal records. Only current and former law enforcement officers, certain security guards and those who can demonstrate a fear of danger are generally granted concealed carry permits.
By contrast, Schumer’s office points to others states’ laxer standards that allow residents to carry guns, and says residents from jurisdictions with weaker laws would be able to circumvent the law of states like New York.
To be eligible under the legislation, an out-of-state gun owner must carry valid photo identification and a concealed carry permit from his or her home state.
Backers of the bills say legislation, which has been referred to relevant committeees, is necessary given the patchwork of state laws that expose the travelers to needless arrests. Backers point to the experiences of law-abiding travelers unaware of other states’ tougher gun laws.
“Truck drivers may be carrying valuable cargo from New Hampshire to Ohio,” said John R. Lott Jr., a researcher and gun rights advocate. New York’s restrictive laws, he said, “could disarm them through through their whole trip.”
On its website, the NRA highlights what the group sees as the dilemma of gun owners such as a truck driver carrying valuable merchandise across state lines or a single woman who is fearful about her car breaking down on a highway. They want to carry a gun for protection but potentially risk arrest, the NRA said.
Asked about such cases, Schumer said: “It’s their obligation to know the law.”
Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro said his boss’ office believes the legislation has a good chance of being voted on because the NRA called for it in its statement condemning the Las Vegas shooting, which left nearly 60 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The reciprocity law, the NRA said in urging Congress to pass the legislation, “will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”
In April, the NYPD and each of the city’s five elected district attorneys came out against the bill.