Gun Rights

House Pisses Off Gun Control Advocates, Opponents With Concealed Carry Bill

The bill dramatically liberalizes concealed carry laws nationwide.



Today the House passed a major new gun bill that has managed to piss off both gun control advocates and champions of the Second Amendment.

HR 38, known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, passed on a mostly party-line vote of 231–198.

Described by the National Rifle Association as its "number-one legislative priority" for the year, the bill allows a person with a valid concealed carry permit from one state to carry in any other state.

The bill replaces the country's confusing patchwork of reciprocity laws that govern where a concealed carry permit holder can possess a firearm outside their home state, and is a major win for gun rights advocates.

Also included in the bill was the Fix NICS Act, which was rolled into the legislation on Tuesday.

The Fix NICS Act—unveiled as a response to the Sutherland Springs shooting—included some pretty mild additional reporting requirements for federal agencies submitting information to the federal firearm background check system. (You can read Reason's coverage of the bill here.)

Combining the two measures likely helped get the whole legislative package over the finish line, but the sausage-making has upset both ends of the political spectrum.

Democrats from states with strict regulations on firearm possession were predictably incensed at the bill's undermining of their concealed carry permitting regimes.

"Some states give concealed carry permits to people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors. Those folks are coming soon to a community near you," wrote Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) on Twitter. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) echoed that point, saying that HR 38 "would damage state and local governments' ability to craft gun laws appropriate to their needs."

Also opposed to the final legislative package was a clutch of hardcore gun rights activists who supported the concealed-carry provisions of the law but were opposed to the background check provisions.

Most vocal on this front was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who chairs the House's Second Amendment caucus and who wrote a lengthy Facebook post "blowing the whistle on the swamp" for logrolling on this bill.

"The bill" Massie wrote, "encourages administrative agencies, not the courts, to submit more names to a national database that will determine whether you can or can't obtain a firearms."

According to Massie, this puts administrative agencies in the position of adjudicating Second Amendment rights, something he says should be left up to the courts.

From my reading of the NICS Fix Act, that seems to be overblown. Administrative agencies are already required quarterly to send information on people who are prohibited from owning firearms to the Attorney General. The NICS Act requires these agencies to submit an additional semi-annual report verifying that they are doing this.

Seems like a pretty small price to pay for nationwide concealed carry reciprocity.