Rep. William L. Owens voted Wednesday night in favor of a bill that would require New York to honor concealed weapon permits from other states, some of which may have weaker gun control laws. In turn, New Yorkers would be able to carry concealed weapons in states that don’t currently recognize its permit laws.
“Responsible gun owners deserve the clarity of law that allows them to take their legally-obtained property across state lines without the fear that they’ll be fined or put in jail,” Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said in a news release.
While his vote helped shore up Mr. Owens’ already solid Second Amendment bona fides, it staked him on the opposing side of many of his New York Democratic colleagues.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, for example, wrote congressional leaders asking that they halt the bill, which, he argued, would put New Yorkers in danger.
Mr. Schneiderman argued that the law would “have a devastating effect on the ability of law enforcement in New York to combat the scourge of gun violence” by forcing it to “abandon its own gun laws by allowing out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms based on their home state’s less safe laws, rather than those of the state they are entering,” according to the letter.
New York requires a criminal background check and a mental health evaluation, tougher standards than exist in other states.
Sean R. Magers, a spokesman for Mr. Owens, said in an email: “As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Congressman Owens believes this legislation helps to preserve New Yorkers’ right to bear arms. He respectfully disagrees with the Attorney General on this issue.”
The bill passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, 272-154, but its future in the Democratic-controlled Senate is in doubt. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has pledged to do what he can to stop the bill in the chamber, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
Mr. Owens, who represents a wide, rural swath of Northern New York, received an “A” rating from and the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in 2010.
His 2012 opponent, Republican Matthew A. Doheny, said he would have supported the reciprocity measure.
“I support this bill because it would protect a person’s fundamental right to defend themselves and because it preserves the 2nd Amendment rights our founding fathers gave to us,” Mr. Doheny said in an emailed statement. “In addition, I will never support a House speaker who is an outspoken crusader for the anti-gun lobby, as my opponent did.”