The Constitution guarantees the right of individual, law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I am committed to protecting the Second Amendment and will fight any attempts to weaken that fundamental right. Given recent mass shootings, we must carefully examine current federal gun laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable and ensure they are being properly enforced. But as a gun owner and staunch defender of the Second Amendment, I will not support measures that infringe on Americans’ constitutionally-protected rights.
Reciprocity for Concealed Carry Permits
On December 22, 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia would stop honoring concealed carry permits from 25 states, including Tennessee. This is absurd, especially for the law-abiding Tennesseans who cross into Virginia often for work or other reasons. On January 19, 2016, Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith and I held a press conference in Bristol to highlight the impacts of this misguided and foolish decision. I strongly believe that your Second Amendment right doesn’t stop at a state line, and Tennesseans with valid concealed carry permits ought to have the right to carry their firearms across state lines.
I was pleased Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe reversed the Attorney General’s decision. I believe Congress must act to make sure that the Second Amendment protects all responsible, law-abiding adults, regardless of which state they are in. This is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow individuals who possess concealed carry permits in their home state to carry in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry.
I am a concealed carry permit holder myself, and you can rest assured I will continue to speak out against and oppose ridiculous measures like the one moving forward in Virginia.
In January 2016, President Obama formally announced his plan to unilaterally expand gun control laws. I adamantly opposed these executive actions and have done everything in my power to stop the president from continuing his war on the Constitutional rights of American citizens. One of the most concerning parts of the executive orders is the Social Security Administration’s ability to add a person’s name and parts of their personal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without proper due process. It is estimated that this change could allow the records of approximately 75,000 people each year to be submitted to NICS without any mechanism to appeal until after their names have already been added.
This is wholly unacceptable, which is why I proudly cosponsored and voted for H.J.Res. 40, which President Trump signed into law on February 28, 2017. This joint resolution nullifies the Social Security Administration’s rule.
To ensure that our nation’s veterans are protected against similar overreaches by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I introduced H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act. This bill would end the current practice of the VA declaring veterans as “mentally incompetent” and submitting their information to the NICS simply because the veteran has been appointed a fiduciary. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 240 to 175 on March 16, 2017 and awaits consideration in the Senate.
We can all agree someone who has severe mental problems should not be allowed to have a gun, but in this country we are entitled to due process. No American citizen should be stripped of their rights without their day in court, and I will continue to support commonsense legislation that protects Americans’ rights.
While I do not believe that taking away the Constitutional rights of legal gun owners will solve the epidemic of violence in our society, I do believe we should take steps to ensure that federal and state agencies follow laws that are already on the books. This is why I supported the Fix NICS Act, a bipartisan bill that ensures federal and state law enforcement agencies are complying with existing laws and reporting criminal records to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Fix NICS Act does not add any new restrictions to gun ownership, but instead will penalize agencies that fail to report relevant records to the FBI; incentivize reporting; and direct federal funds to make sure domestic violence offenders are reported to the FBI so they cannot purchase a firearm. Had individuals been properly reported to the database, it is possible that shootings like the ones at churches in Charleston, SC, and Sutherland Springs, TX, could have been prevented, among others. And it’s possible that if law enforcement had acted on the numerous warning signals that were received on the Parkland shooter, the school shooting in Florida could have been prevented as well. The Fix NICS Act was signed into law as a part of H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which I voted for when it passed the House on March 22, 2018, by a vote of 256 to 167.