Political Correction

GOP Witness Oblivious On Domestic Violence Offenders And Guns

September 13, 2011 2:05 pm ET - by Chris Brown

During his testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, constitutional law professor David Kopel showed a startling lack of awareness of cases in which domestic violent offenders with concealed-carry permits committed murder. These cases show glaring deficiencies in the process to grant concealed-carry permits.

Kopel was testifying on H.R. 882, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which is widely opposed by domestic violence victim advocates. Kopel said he had no knowledge of a string of cases Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) asked him about and challenged the accuracy of her description of the cases, despite claiming to have never heard of them:

Chu described the case of Clinton Gallagher, who sued to get his concealed-carry permit reissued after pleading guilty to a domestic violence misdemeanor and shockingly won the case. In December 2010, less than six months after regaining his permit, Gallagher shot and killed his six-year-old son before killing himself.

While federal law does prohibit domestic violence offenders from possessing a gun, in practice many people with a history of domestic violence are not prohibited. In many instances, domestic violence offenders plead guilty to lesser general assault charges and therefore are not known to the system as domestic violence offenders. Some states have made additional efforts to prevent those with a record of abuse but without a criminal conviction from getting a permit; H.R. 882 would undermine those efforts.

Moreover, several media investigations into state permitting processes have found large-scale breakdowns allowing people with violent pasts to either obtain a concealed-carry license or keep the one they already had.

Under current law, states make their own choices about who they permit to carry a concealed weapon, allowing them to take extra precautions to prevent domestic violence offenders from gaining a permit. H.R. 882 would force states to accept out of state concealed-carry permits, no matter how weak the rules for getting a permit are in that state or how flawed their permitting process.

Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.