WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans lined up a vote this week in the House on making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines, the first gun-related legislation since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.
The bill is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, which calls it an important step to expand the right of gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep Richard Hudson, R-N.C., called it “a common-sense solution to the confusing hodgepodge of concealed-carry reciprocity agreements between states.”
The bill affirms that “law-abiding citizens who are qualified to carry concealed in one state can also carry in other states that allow residents to do so,” Hudson said.
Opponents say the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws that place stricter limits on gun, forcing them to comply with states that have far looser laws.
The GOP bill “lowers everybody’s standards to the lowest in the union,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “It is the agenda of the NRA, but it should not be the agenda of Congress.” Raskin and other Democrats unanimously opposed the bill at a House Judiciary Committee meeting this week. The bill was approved on a party-line vote, 19-11.
Lawmakers expect House action either Wednesday or Thursday.
The bill includes a provision to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.
The Air Force has acknowledged that the Texas shooter, Devin P. Kelley, should have had his name and domestic violence conviction submitted to the National Criminal Information Center database. The Air Force has discovered “several dozen” other such reporting omissions since the Nov. 5 shooting.
The judiciary panel approved the database measure as a separate bill Wednesday, but the provision was later added to the concealed-weapons bill.
Despite calls by Democrats for tighter gun control, Congress has taken no steps on guns in the weeks following the Texas shooting and the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people.
The measure on background checks would require that federal agencies certify twice a year that they have submitted required records to the federal database.