Concealed carry reciprocity bill passes House

A man fires a handgun at Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range in Sandy Springs, Ga., on Jan. 4, 2013. (Associated Press) more >

By Andrea Noble - The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The House passed legislation Wednesday that would force states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states, and strengthen the federal gun background check system.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, backed by Republicans, was adopted in a 231-198 vote that mostly followed party lines. The measure will now have to be taken up by the Senate.

Supporters say the proposal would give law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves when they travel, but critics say it eviscerates states’ rights to uphold their own firearms standards by allowing gun owners who obtain permits from states with lesser requirements to carry in all 50 states.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the passage of the bill.

“The truth is that concealed carry laws save lives,” said Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. “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.”

But Democrats, who mostly opposed the reciprocity bill, were angered that the legislation was merged with another proposal meant to strengthen the federal background check system. They had sought to keep the two proposals 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.

The Fix NICS bill would save lives, but shouldn’t be tethered to the reciprocity bill, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, as he encouraged colleagues to vote against the proposal as it was debated on the House floor.

“No one should pass a firearms background check that he or she should have failed simply because their record of a felony conviction or domestic violence record, or some other prohibition under federal law, was not included in the system,” Mr. Nadler said.

“There is broad bipartisan support for the Fix NICS bill here in the House and in the Senate.”

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting, said she was furious over the bill’s passage.

“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.”