The House Judiciary Committee announced this week it will mark up a pair of bills that would expand carry rights nationwide while addressing background checks and controversial firearms accessories.
The committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is set to move on both the revamped carry bill and a pending measure designed to fix shortfalls in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System while directing research into the use of bump stocks in crime.
“For me and the vast majority of Americans who support concealed carry reciprocity, this is welcome progress,” said the sponsor of the reciprocity bill, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC. “I want to thank Chairman Bob Goodlatte for his strong leadership to protect our Second Amendment rights.”
Hudson’s measure, H.R.38, has 213 co-sponsors including a smattering of Democrats and the support of attorneys general from five conservative states. In its amended version, it would force states to recognize the right of law-abiding citizens with a valid concealed carry license or permit to carry a concealed handgun. Residents of constitutional or permitless carry states would also be recognized. Also, the language in Hudson’s proposal would open public land currently off limits to concealed carry such as that controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The bill is opposed by a national mayors group, attorneys general in 15 mostly blue states, and a host of gun control organizations. “After two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, Americans expect Congress to work in a bipartisan way to strengthen – not weaken – our gun laws,” said John Feinblatt, Everytown’s president. “The gun lobby’s number one priority of ‘concealed carry reciprocity’ is a ploy to weaken state gun laws and allow untrained people and people with dangerous histories to carry hidden, loaded handguns across the country.”
NICS and bump stocks
The second measure on the committee’s plate, a new “Fix NICS” act, would add several accountability measures designed to ensure that federal agencies submit the records of criminals, domestic abusers and others prohibited from possessing guns to the FBI-maintained system while giving states incentives to up their own reporting. Though NICS has over 17 million active indexes in their files as of the end of October, the database is incomplete and recent high-profile shootings involving those who should have been denied firearms have drawn attention to the shortfall.
In an attempt to address the controversy over bump stocks, which have been the subject of numerous bills to either ban or highly regulate the devices since their use in the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas in October, the measure directs the Bureau of Justice Statistics to review their use in crime and submit their findings to Congress within 180 days. Unlike other proposals which have a vague definition of bump stocks, the bill set for mark up this week is rigidly defined, noting such a device must use “continuous forward pressure applied to the rifle’s fore end in conjunction with a linear forward and backward sliding motion of the mechanism utilizing the recoil energy when the rifle is discharged.”
The bills still need a floor vote in the House and approval in the Senate before heading to President Trump’s desk.