House panel taking up bill allowing concealed carry across state lines

PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington, Sept. 27, 2017.PlayAndrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WATCH Community colleges in Texas allow concealed guns on campus

The House Judiciary Committee plans to take up federal concealed carry legislation and a bipartisan proposal to improve the background check system Wednesday, one of the first actions on gun legislation on Capitol Hill since a spate of recent mass shootings across the country.

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The bill from Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, would allow gun owners with concealed carry permits from one state to carry their firearms in another, while still following local and state regulations.

“It’s just a common sense measure protecting law-abiding citizens who are doing the right thing,” Hudson said in an interview.

Hudson said GOP leaders have told him that his bill, which could go to the House floor as early as next week, will get a vote by the end of the year.

An aide to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined to comment on the timing of a floor vote.

The proposal, cosponsored by 210 Republicans and three Democrats, is a top legislative priority for the National Rifle Association, which endorsed President Trump in the 2016 presidential race and spent heavily to help elect him.

Gun control advocates and critics of the bill, including the United Conference of Mayors, are concerned it would weaken concealed carry laws in New York City and other heavily regulated areas, and nationalize rules in a dozen states that allow concealed carry of handguns without a permit.

“It completely upends the ability of a state to exercise its own rules and requirements for who can and can’t carry a concealed gun,” said Kristin Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The bill also has critics in the law enforcement community.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders, a group of current and former local and federal law enforcement officials organized by the Giffords gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords warned that the measure would force local law enforcement to learn concealed carry laws for all 50 states.

“Much of policing is looking for the out of the ordinary, but when individuals abide by the laws of their own states instead of the one they are in, this becomes nearly impossible,” the officials wrote in the letter.

Hudson said gun owners with concealed firearms will still need to follow local laws, and that “each state and municipality can determine their own laws about where people can carry and what kinds of firearms people can carry.”

The Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the bill comes roughly two months after the Las Vegas concert shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history. That attack blunted the momentum behind a sportsmen’s bill that included a provision from Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, to ease federal regulations on the sale of gun silencers.

Democrats and many Republicans expressed interest in reviewing the bump stock accessories used in the attack that allowed the shooter’s semi-automatic weapon to function like a fully-automatic firearm. Congress has yet to legislate on the issue, following briefings from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency hasn't said publicly whether it can address concerns about the sale of bump stocks through regulation, or if legislation will be required.

The Judiciary Committee is also taking up a bipartisan bill crafted to reinforce background check reporting requirements after the mass church shooting in San Antonio earlier this month that left 26 people dead.

The shooter in that attack was able to purchase a gun after domestic abuse convictions from his time in the Air Force were not passed along to federal law enforcement.

"I heard from my constituents back home more emphasis to pass this legislation because a lot of people realize that a good guy with a gun … put a stop to that shooting," Hudson said. "If anything the most recent shooting reinforces in people’s minds the need for this legislation."

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