House Passes Bill Requiring States Recognize Concealed Gun Permits

The Senate is considering a similar law, making it more likely all Americans will be able to secretly carry firearms across state lines.
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Guns in America

The House of Representatives approved the Conceal Carry Reciprocity bill, bringing the U.S. one step closer to effectively allowing all Americans to secretly carry firearms.

The Republican-sponsored bill, which the National Rifle Association has called its “highest legislative priority in Congress,” would amend the federal criminal code to allow the concealed transport of handguns across state lines, so long as both states allow concealed carry. The final vote, on legislation that included a provision increasing federal and state reporting to the national gun background check system, was 231 to 198.

This federal law would supersede any state statutes on concealed firearms. The House Judiciary Committee last week approved the bill in a 19-11 vote, rejecting numerous amendments brought by Democrats, including those seeking to ban violent offenders. The Senate is considering similar legislation to the House bill. If the legislation becomes law—President Donald Trump is expected to sign if it reaches his desk—it’s expected to face numerous legal challenges for being a federal intrusion on state’s rights.

“First, we fully expect that the Senate will hear the voices of law enforcement and the public, and stop this dangerous legislation from becoming law,” Eric Tirschwell, director of litigation and national enforcement policy for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group, said in a statement. “But if it were to make it to the president’s desk, we’d be waiting on the other side fully prepared to challenge it in court.”

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is “working on developing the legal arguments, as well as the evidentiary basis, for challenging the law,” J. Adam Skaggs, the group’s chief counsel, said in an interview. “I think the structure of what this law will seek to do is unprecedented, and it’s also unconstitutional because it violates core principals of federalism.” 

The bill has also been criticized by law enforcement, though the National Fraternal Order of Police hasn’t taken a position on the overall bill, which was sponsored almost exclusively by Republicans.

“Overriding states’ conceal carry standards with the lowest common denominator means more concern for the cops that I command,” said Kevin Davis, the Baltimore Police Commissioner, earlier this week. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo raised similar fears. “We here in Texas law enforcement, and most law enforcement, do not support reciprocity,” he said.

— With assistance by Catherine Dodge

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