On February 14, 2018, a high school in Broward County, Florida, experienced a mass shooting when a former student used a legally-purchased assault weapon to kill at least 17 students. This marked the thirtieth mass shooting and eighteenth school shooting to that point in 2018.
Donald Trump and Members of Congress continue to extend “thoughts and prayers,” but it’s not enough. It is time for Congress to do something to stop this type of gun violence.
But instead, Congress is considering making mass shootings easier, not preventing them.
The gun lobby’s top priorities enjoy wide support in Congress. On December 6, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This legislation was a top priority of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and, if enacted into law, would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards. The Senate is expected to take up this same bill this year. We can’t let that happen.
Under this legislation, states would be required to recognize other states’ standards governing the possession of concealed firearms in public. This means that even though one state may have stringent regulations such as a permit or training requirement, that state would have to allow people from other states with lower standards - with perhaps no permit or training required at all - to carry concealed firearms without following the more stringent regulations.
This legislation would deprive states and localities from fully determining the appropriate gun safety protocols for their communities, and would allow the lowest common denominator to prevail. This will make concealed and loaded firearms more readily available at lower safety standards, raising the risk of gun violence for everyone.
For those reasons, every major law enforcement association opposes this bill because of its potentially disastrous implications for public safety. After all, this legislation would make it easier for more dangerous people, like stalkers, domestic abusers, and people who have committed violent crimes to carry loaded, concealed guns in more public places. This makes the risk of violence more imminent for all of us.
CONGRESS MUST REJECT THE NRA’S AGENDA
Defeating this legislation should be a no-brainer for Congress in the wake of these mass shootings. Here’s what you can do.
First, find out how your Representative voted in the House.
If you are a constituent of one of the MoCs who voted in favor of this bill in the house, this is an opportunity to hold them accountable. Use the tactics outlined in the Indivisible Guide to get their attention and make sure they know that their constituents will not let this vote go unnoticed.
Second, find out how your senator plans to vote.
The bill is next poised for a vote in the Senate sometime in 2018, where it has a real chance of being stopped.
The bill would need 60 votes to pass, so Republicans can’t do it alone. It’s now up to Democratic senators - will they side with the NRA to give Trump a victory? Or will they stand strong against gun violence and reject the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act?
Third, call your MoCs and hold them to account.
If your Representative voted for the bill in the House, be sure to express your disappointment. Then call your Senators and urge them to stand strong against the bill when it comes to the Senate.
SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT
Caller: Hello, I’m a constituent from [part of state] calling regarding the mass shooting in Florida. I urge Senator/Representative [name] to not just condemn this act of terror, but to support responsible policies that help prevent these acts of gun violence.
Staffer: Thank you for calling, [MoC] has issued a statement condemning this attack, extending thoughts and prayers, and is listening for more information about the incident.
Caller: I’m glad to hear that, but it’s not enough. [MoC] must also vote the right way, to protect us from further gun violence.
If your MoC voted in favor of the bill in the House:
Caller: I’m really disappointed that [he/she] voted in favor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This is the NRA’s top legislative priority and will create a race to the bottom in gun safety standards.
Staffer: Thank you for sharing your concerns. [MoC] felt that this bill, along with the Fix NICS Act that it was combined with, would overall address gun safety in a bipartisan way that also protected the Second Amendment.
Caller: But we’ve seen over and over how the over-availability and lax regulations surrounding guns has caused mass shootings, terror and loss of life. This bill would force all states to recognize the lowest common denominator in gun safety regulations, even allowing people without a permit or training to carry a concealed firearm in public. This places us all at risk, which is why every major law enforcement agency has opposed this bill.
Staffer: I’ll be sure to convey your concerns to [MoC].
Caller: Thank you, please do. I’m alarmed that [he/she] would side with Trump and the NRA to weaken gun safety, and I’ll be taking this vote into consideration during [his/her] next re-election bid.
For your Senators:
Caller: I’m disturbed that H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed the House, and it’s essential that the Senate stop it from becoming law. Will [Senator] commit to voting against this bill when it comes to the Senate?
Staffer: Thank you for reaching out and sharing your concerns. The Senator will evaluate the legislation and make a decision at the time it comes up.
Caller: I’d like to see the Senator commit immediately to opposing this legislation. Particularly in light of the devastating mass shootings we’ve seen recently, it’s as important as ever not to weaken gun safety standards, and prevent firearms from falling into dangerous hands. This is why every major law enforcement agency has opposed this bill.
Staffer: I’ll be sure to relay your concerns to the Senator.
Caller: Please do, I’ll be monitoring [his/her] statements and following up if I don’t see a commitment to oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
SAMPLE TOWN HALL QUESTION FOR SENATORS
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is a bill under consideration in Congress that would override existing state laws and mandate that every state recognize concealed carry standards from other states—this would jeopardize America’s public safety and make it much harder for police to enforce gun laws that save lives. How do you plan to vote on this bill? Can we, as your constituents, depend on you to have our backs and stand up to the gun lobby by opposing this dangerous legislation?