Congressman Lamar Smith (RTX) is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for December.

In nominating the Lone Star State lawmaker for the award, John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Di­rector, extolled Rep. Smith. He said “the Congressman, throughout his years here in the Nation’s Capital, consistently has demonstrated his determined, judicious and articu­late commitment to the individual Second Amendment civil right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms. Although he has done this at different times and in different ways, he most recently demonstrated this in heading the House Judiciary Committee, which he leads as Chairman, to report out to the full floor of the House, a bill providing for national concealed carry reciprocity. He is most deserv­ing of this award.”

When Chairman Smith brought up the reciprocity bill for a full committee mark-up, he noted that the bill is H.R. 822, the proposed National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), and that it had 245 cosponsors “from both sides of the aisle.

“The bill allows law-abiding gun owners with valid state-issued fire­arm permits or licenses to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that also allows concealed carry. This legislation does not preempt a state’s ability to set concealed carry requirements for its own residents. It requires states that currently per­mit people to carry concealed fire­arms to recognize other states’ valid concealed carry permits – much like the states recognize drivers’ licenses issued by other states.”

Rep. Smith said, “H.R. 822 also does not affect state laws governing how firearms are carried or used within the various states. A person visiting another state must comply with all laws and regulations governing the carrying and use of a concealed fire­arm within that state.”

Studies show, noted Congress­man Smith, “that carrying concealed weapons reduces violent crime rates by deterring would-be assailants and by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.

“A 1997 study published by John Lott and David Mustard regarding the effect of concealed carry laws on crime rates estimated that ‘when state concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell by more than seven percent, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by similar percentages.’”

Rep. Smith pointed out that, “The study has been replicated and con­firmed by other scholars – some of whom found that the Lott and Mus­tard study underestimated the effect of concealed carry laws on violent crime rates. This bill simply allows Americans who travel in interstate commerce to bring their Second Amendment rights with them.

“Congress has previously passed laws to permit certain active-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in other states. H.R. 822 extends the same ability to all law-abiding citizens.”

On another matter, Chairman Smith said he wants an independent lawyer to investigate whether At­torney General Eric Holder misled Congress in the fall when he found out about the scandalous behavior involved in Operation Fast and Furi­ous.

Documents the Justice Department gave to the Judiciary Committee ap­pear to contradict statements Holder made to the committee in the spring about when he found out about the operation, Rep. Smith alleged in a letter to President Obama.

They “raise significant questions about the truthfulness of Attorney General Holder’s testimony,” Rep. Smith wrote.

Congressman Smith was born November 19, 1947 in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from T.M.I.: The Episcopal School of Texas, Yale University and Southern Meth­odist University Law School. He briefly practiced law before entering politics. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1980. He served as Bexar County, Texas commissioner from 1982 to 1985. He has been a U.S. Representative since 1987 and chairman of the Judiciary Committee since January of this year.

He is married to Elizabeth Lynn Schaefer and has two children, Nell Seeligson and Tobin Wells.