The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday delivered a victory to Second Amendment advocates with passage of concealed carry reciprocity.
By a vote of 231 to 198, the House passed H.R. 38, which also contains the so-called “Fix NICS” legislation to improve the National Instant Check System, updating criminal records to prevent disqualified people from buying firearms.
Immediately after the vote, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms issued a statement from Chairman Alan Gottlieb, who observed:
“We’re one step closer to fully restoring the Second Amendment as it was originally intended. Now, if the Senate can follow the House lead and pass this measure, law abiding American gun owners will no longer have to fear wrongful arrest and even imprisonment for having a firearm for personal protection as they travel from state to state.”
“Millions of law-abiding gun owners are right now applauding the work of Congressman Richard Hudson and all who have played a part in passing this important legislation in the U.S. House. Americans’ Constitutional rights should not end at state lines, which is why concealed carry reciprocity is both common-sense and long overdue,” noted Tim Schmidt, Founder and President of the United States Concealed Carry Association, in a statement.
The Firearms Policy Coalition also applauded the vote and vowed to continue working to improve the “Fix NICS” portion of the legislation.
And Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action observed:
“This vote marks a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is the culmination of a 30-year movement recognizing the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, and their loved ones, including when they cross state lines.”
“With House passage today of H.R. 38, we have cleared a major hurdle toward what will be two major achievements for America’s law-abiding gun owners and for our federally-licensed firearms retailers,” added Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “This legislation provides a solution to the confusing patchwork of concealed carry laws and ensures that our citizens’ Second Amendment rights do not end at the state line.”
NSSF is the industry umbrella group that has called for the “Fix NICS” reform legislation for several years.
“Federally licensed firearms retailers rely upon the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to be accurate in preventing the sale and transfer of firearms to prohibited persons,” Keane noted.
The vote came after a one-hour debate that saw opponents repeat familiar arguments that this legislation will allow violent criminals to cross state lines with concealed handguns, ignoring the fact that this is already happening. The differing laws of each state prohibit legally-licensed, honest citizens from bring their guns across state lines unless those states have existing reciprocity agreements.
Many Democrats opposing the measure brought up mass shootings including Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, but failed to acknowledge that none of these incidents involved legal concealed carry across state lines.
Opponents including Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) contended that this measure will put more guns on the street. Democrat Steny Hoyer (D-MD) predicted that passage of the bill will make the country less safe. Virtually all of the opposition asserted that the nation is suffering from “an epidemic of violence.”
But Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) bluntly commented that “My friends on the other side do not like the Second Amendment. They wish it wasn’t there.”
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz wondered why Democrats are “so afraid” of legally-armed Americans exercising their rights.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary who led the floor fight in support of the measure, introduced a letter signed by 23 state attorneys general in support of the legislation.
Not all Democrats lined up against the measure, either. Democrat Henry Cuellar of Texas not only supported the measure, he was a co-sponsor and urged his colleagues to vote for passage.
Concealed carry reciprocity is a divisive subject and it became a campaign issue in 2016 when then-candidate Donald Trump indicated his support of the idea. If the bill survives the Senate and lands on his desk, he is expected to sign.