Concealed carry reciprocity has long been a goal of Republicans who support the 2nd Amendment. The principle holds that a concealed carry permit from one state should be valid in all other states; the same as a driver’s license or a marriage license.
The idea has been gaining steam slowly over the past decade, but a bill that includes concealed carry reciprocity recently passed the House. Although, it’s what the bill also included that resulted in fourteen conservative Republicans voting against the measure.
Democrat gun control measures were added to concealed carry reciprocity bill
Unfortunately for supporters of the 2nd Amendment, the legislation that they supported was tainted before it was passed by the House. The bill is no longer a clean concealed carry reciprocity bill on its own. Instead, it has been combined with the Feinstein/Schumer “Fix NICS” legislation.
The added measures would increase funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by hundreds of millions of dollars. There would also be incentives added for federal and state agencies to increase their reporting of convicted felons who are ineligible to purchase firearms.
This merger was put forward by House Republican leadership as a way to increase the bill’s chances of passing the Senate. The Republican majority in that chamber is markedly slimmer and therefore a higher degree of compromise is required.
Although the additions may seem practical, fourteen Republican representatives thought the cost was too high and ended up voting against the package. The House Liberty Caucus issued a statement urging its members to vote ‘No’ and Congressman Thomas Massie lead the resistance.
In the end, Congressmen Amash, Buck, Costello (PA), Curbelo (FL), Donovan, Fitzpatrick, Gohmert, King (NY), Lance, Massie, Meehan, Ros-Lehtinen, Roskam, and Smith (NJ) joined with 184 Democrats to vote ‘No’.
Gun groups were split on the legislation; NRA for, NAGR against
The National Rifle Association came out in favor of the merged bill, and even went so far as to issue a “fact check” of Congressman Thomas Massie’s claims:
CLAIM: “The bill will also advance former President Obama’s agenda of pressuring every branch of the administration (such as the Veteran’s Administration) to submit thousands of more names to the NICS background check database to deny gun purchases.”
FACT: The bill requires that federal agencies submit the names of anyone who is already prohibited by law from possessing a firearm to the NICS background check database. This differs from former President Obama’s efforts, in which he attempted to administratively create new categories of individuals who were prohibited from possessing a firearm. H.R. 4477, by contrast, is aimed squarely at individuals like the perpetrator of the recent murders in Texas, who should have been reported to NICS because of his disqualifying criminal history.
CLAIM: “The bill is being rammed through, without a hearing, in a very nontransparent process, and it will be passed by attaching it to the popular concealed carry reciprocity bill which already has enough votes to pass on its own.”
FACT: The bill went through a very thorough and public markup session of its own. And like the concealed carry reciprocity bill, the Fix NICS bill would also have enough votes to pass on its own.
CLAIM: “It spends over half a billion dollars to collect more names to include in a list of people who will never be allowed to own a firearm.”
FACT: The bill incentivizes states to transmit the records of individuals who, under current law, are alreadyprohibited from possessing a firearm. It does not create new categories of restriction.
CLAIM: “It compels administrative agencies, not just courts, to adjudicate your second amendment rights.”
FACT: Since 1994, administrative agencies have been required to report individuals who are prohibited under current law from possessing a firearm to NICS. Fix-NICS merely adds additional layers of transparency and accountability to the process, as a well as a new 60-day deadline for the government to resolve claims of recordsthat have been erroneously included in NICS.
The National Association for Gun Rights, on the other hand, stood with Congressman Massie and opposed the legislation. Most other national gun rights groups took a position but it was evenly divided between support and opposition.
Despite a principled opposition, concealed carry reciprocity passed the House
Those against the merging of gun control with reciprocity may have had a principled argument. But, the legislation passed anyway. The question now is whether or not the compromise measures added to it are enough to get it through the Senate.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and John McCain’s ‘No’ votes are enough to bring a vote on the bill to a tie. If one more Republican were to join them it would be game over.
(Photo of Congressmen Justin Amash and Thomas Massie speaking at the 2013 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia by Gage Skidmore)