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Bill strengthens states’ gun rights

The Journal Gazette has contributed to an important conversation about the Second Amendment and states’ rights and, while we disagree, I appreciate the opportunity to have a reasonable dialogue. Unfortunately, last Saturday’s Furthermore, “Congressman’s Orwellian turn of phrase,” inaccurately describes legislation I introduced to strengthen concealed carry laws as “taking away” states’ rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The purpose of my bill is simple. It would allow people who legally carry a concealed weapon in their home state to also carry in any other state that allows concealed carry.

What my bill doesn’t do is just as important as what it does. My bill would neither force a single state to change its gun laws nor force states that prohibit concealed carry to change their laws. Additionally, it will not force “constitutional carry” states such as Arizona and Vermont, where no permit is even needed to carry a concealed weapon, to require their residents to obtain a permit. Finally, it would not supersede state legislation that prohibits carrying firearms in designated areas.

Forcing any of these changes would violate the 10th Amendment, which guarantees states’ rights.

Furthermore, under my bill, nonresidents exercising reciprocity are subject to the laws of the state they are visiting. Illinois and the District of Columbia specifically prohibit concealed carry. Their residents will not be able to use another state’s nonresident permit to carry in their home state.

My legislation is based on the common sense belief that if you are a responsible gun owner in your home state, you should be allowed to be a responsible gun owner in any other state that allows concealed carry.

In the recent decisions Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed what Hoosiers already know: The right to keep and bear arms is an individual right that neither state nor federal governments can deny.

It’s time to strengthen our nation’s gun laws to eliminate confusion and protect the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, wrote this for The Journal Gazette.