Nebraskans have long held rights granted by the Constitution close to our hearts -- especially the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In total, an estimated 90 million Americans own more than 200 million guns. Many are used for sport and hunting, others are collectors' items, and still more are used for self-defense and security.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states "... the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." While the words of the Bill of Rights were written more than 200 years ago, it is clear our founders wrote the document carefully. The principles of free speech, states' rights, and private property were intended to be central to our nation. Similarly, the founders understood the right to bear arms was a basic freedom and ought to be a lasting, protected privilege of all Americans.
Unfortunately, the federal government continues to put regulations in place which limit this constitutional right. These regulations need reform, so I recently became a cosponsor of two important bills to prevent infringement upon the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The National Right to Carry Reciprocity (H.R. 822) would allow any person with a valid concealed carry permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state which issues concealed firearm permits or does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms. A state's laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within its borders. This legislation would not create a federal licensing system; rather, it would require states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards.
In addition to H.R. 822, I am a cosponsor of the Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act (H.R. 420). During World War II and the Korean War, many veterans acquired war relic firearms, which was a lawful practice at the time. However, under current law if these firearms are not registered in the National Firearms Registrations and Transfer Record, veterans or their heirs may be convicted of illegal possession. Veterans, service members, and their families make countless sacrifices to defend our freedom and should have the opportunity to openly register these firearms without penalty. This bill would provide a 90-day amnesty period during which veterans and their family members could register firearms acquired overseas between June 26, 1934, and October 31, 1968, without fear of prosecution.
Democracy and freedom are cornerstones of our unique American heritage, and we must remain vigilant to ensure that our rights are protected. As a member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus as well as a Life Member of the National Rifle Association, I am committed to support legislation which protects the constitutional rights of all law-abiding, gun-owning Americans.
For more information about Second Amendment issues, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at www.adriansmith.house.gov.