After two hours of debate, the House of Representatives today approved legislation that would force all states to recognize one another’s permits to carry concealed firearms. For the National Rifle Association, the passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, by a vote of 231 to 198, represents an important first step toward its top political priority for the past decade. The legislation now moves to the Senate.
It’s worth noting that this is not the first time the House has passed such a bill. In 2011, after the Tea Party’s midterm wave, the lower chamber of Congress approved a nearly identical bill by a margin of 272 to 154. It was not taken up by the then-Democratic-controlled Senate.
This is the first time a concealed-carry reciprocity bill has advanced with uniform Republican control of the federal government. President Donald Trump supports reciprocity.
That doesn’t mean it will definitely become law, however. Republicans lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said he believes it has no chance of passing the upper chamber.
The bill was packaged with the bipartisan Fix NICS proposal to fund better reporting of records to the gun background check system.
Should GOP Senators peel off enough Democratic votes to send reciprocity to the president’s desk, the law is almost certain to face a court challenge. As I wrote in this post, some right-leaning legal scholars think that opponents of the reciprocity bill may, ironically, rely on traditionally conservative states’ rights legal theories to try and overturn it.
Outside the Capitol, residents of Newtown, Connecticut, protested the bill
By requiring states to recognize one another's gun permits, the legislation would dramatically expand where gun owners can bring their weapons.
A bus filled with advocates of gun violence prevention traveled to Washington from Newtown, Connecticut, on Wednesday morning. Lois Beckett, a reporter for the Guardian, rode with them and wrote that the activists had expected an uphill battle even in getting face time with Republican members of Congress. The bill came to the House floor about a week before the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, which left 20 children and six educators dead.
At a rally before the vote, the Newtown residents were joined by law enforcement officers and Democratic lawmakers, including Murphy and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
The Democrats took their combative tone inside to the House floor, where Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York called the bill a “death sentence” that ignored the safety needs of densely populated urban areas. Representative Mike Thompson of California offered a last-minute amendment to block people convicted of violent misdemeanors from being able to carry concealed weapons over state lines, which failed.