Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38).

Chairman Goodlatte: Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. Throughout my career in elected office, I have believed in and adhered to two fundamental principles regarding firearms policy. First, the right guaranteed to law-abiding Americans by the Second Amendment must be aggressively protected and preserved. Second, the laws we have on the books need to be enforced to the fullest extent possible. The bipartisan bill before us today does both.

H.R. 38 ensures that law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment right does not end when they cross state lines. The bill allows law-abiding gun owners with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits, or those who live in so- called “constitutional carry” states, to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that also allows concealed carry.

We know that citizens who carry a concealed firearm are not only better prepared to act in their own self-defense, but also in the defense of others. Take for instance an incident that occurred just last November on a highway in Florida. Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes had just concluded a high-speed chase just off Interstate 75. As Deputy Bardes approached to apprehend the suspect, the suspect, Edward Strother, violently attacked Deputy Bardes. A witness on the scene told reporters that the attacker “just started punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting. I was afraid for the police officer. I thought he was going to kill him.”

Fortunately for Deputy Bardes, Ashad Russell, a Florida concealed-carry permit holder, was also watching the attack unfold.  Mr. Russell pulled his gun and approached the altercation. He told Strother that he would shoot him if he didn’t stop beating the deputy. The State Attorney’s office says Strother ignored Russell’s commands to stop beating the deputy. So Russell fired his gun three times, hitting and fatally wounding the assailant.  Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott has hailed Russell as a hero.

Importantly, this bill also contains the Fix NICS Act of 2017.  This is a bipartisan and bicameral measure.

The Fix NICS Act takes steps to ensure that state and federal agencies enter all relevant records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This bill will help ensure people who are legally prohibited from having guns, like those with violent felony convictions, do not obtain them. The shooting at Virginia Tech and the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina and Sutherland Springs, Texas are tragic reminders of what can happen when all relevant records are not entered into the system.

Our NICS system is only as good as the information within it.  This important piece of legislation will ensure that more of the information already required to be uploaded to NICS under current law is actually placed into the NICS system.

Taken together, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act and the Fix NICS Act preserve and protect the right guaranteed to us by the Second Amendment and ensure that those prohibited by existing law from receiving a firearm are prevented from doing so.  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation.

I want to thank the lead sponsor Mr. Hudson of North Carolina for his hard work on this bill and I would also like to thank the authors of the Fix NICS provisions, Mr. Culberson and Mr. Cuellar, for their important contributions to the legislation before us today.

I reserve the balance of my time.