The U.S. House today passed a bill that would allow holders of state-issued concealed carry weapons permits that would require all states to recognize the permits without getting the permit holder in trouble. The House bill would also strengthen the federal background check system.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, backed by Republicans, was adopted in a 231-198 vote that mostly followed party lines. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Supporters of the bill say those with concealed carry permits will allow the law-abiding citizens to better protect themselves as they cross state lines. But, critics decried the bill, saying it denies states that have strict gun control the opportunity to regulate firearms as they see fit.
“The truth is that concealed carry laws save lives,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, told the Washington Times. “Right now, current law creates confusion for people who cross state borders with a lawful concealed carry permit. The legislation passed by the House today ensures that people who carry their legal firearm across state borders are protected under the law.”
Democrats were not happy about the reciprocity bill being combined with another proposal that would strengthen the federal background check system. Democrats wanted the two proposals to be separate.
The background check bill merged with the reciprocity bill would punish federal agencies that fail to report their records on domestic violence to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which screens gun purchases from licensed firearms dealers. It also would create incentives for states to report more records, according to the Times.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured in a Tucson shooting in 2011, did not mince words to the Times about the passage of the House bill.
“I’m angry that with shootings on the rise, the response from politicians is to sell out to the gun lobby and weaken our public safety laws,” Ms. Giffords said in a statement issued shortly after the vote. “I’m angry that House Republicans are trying to sink a genuine bipartisan solution to problems with our background check system. I’m angry that the Senate is avoiding responsibility for limiting bump stocks. I’m angry that when this country is begging for courage from our leaders, they are responding with cowardice.”
Giffords and her astronaut husband Mark Kelly formed Americans for Responsible Solutions, an anti-gun group. Kelly made news in Tucson a few years ago when he tried to purchase a firearm from a local gun shop and was told his out of state ID was not valid to purchase a firearm in Arizona. Kelly, at the time, claimed he was “testing” how easy it was to purchase firearms from gun shops.
Last week, twenty-three state Attorneys General sent a letter to Congress indicating their support for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Those states are: Missouri, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“As the chief legal officers of our States, we, the undersigned 23 state Attorneys General, write in support of the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (S. 446) and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38). We share a strong interest in the protection of our citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and we are committed to supporting federal and state policies to preserve that constitutional right. These bills, if enacted, would eliminate significant obstacles to the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms for millions of Americans in every State,” the letter states as reported by Townhall.com.
“The core interest protected by this right is self-defense by law-abiding citizens. This right therefore extends to weapons “in common use” and “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 624–25, 627 (quoting United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 179 (1939)),” the letter continued.
The bill was also supported by the National Rifle Association.
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