Holding a minority of seats in both chambers of Congress, Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have resubmitted two popular pro-gun bills.
The two measures, the Hearing Protection Act and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, drew a lot of excitement in 2016 when the GOP held control of Congress and the White House but never successfully made it into law. Nonetheless, the bills are back for the new 117th Congress.
The Hearing Protection Act, filed as H.R. 95 by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., would amend federal law to remove suppressors from the list of National Firearms Act-controlled items. Rather than requiring a $200 tax stamp and extensive NFA paperwork to transfer, the bill would treat them like any other firearm. This would make them eligible for transfer after a simple NICS check.
Backed by 36 House Republicans, the HPA has the support of sportsmen and firearms industry groups.
“Firearm suppressors are a safety device designed to make recreational shooting safer," said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "They were originally listed under the NFA over concerns of poaching during the Great Depression, but that never bore out. Even today, suppressors are exceedingly rarely used in crime."
There are more than 20 million Americans who currently hold a permit to carry a concealed firearm and millions of others living in states where no such permits are required. The problem is that those rights are not recognized in all states. That is where the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act comes in.
Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., the bill was submitted as H.R. 38 this week with a whopping 156 co-sponsors to include a few Democrats. The bill allows people with state-issued concealed carry licenses or permits to conceal a handgun in any other state as long as the permit holder follows the laws of that state. It also gives residents of constitutional carry states the ability to carry in other states.
"Our Second Amendment rights do not disappear when we cross state lines, and H.R. 38 guarantees that," said Hudson. "The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is a commonsense solution to provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits. I am especially proud to have such widespread and bipartisan support for this measure and will work with my colleagues to get this legislation over the finish line."
Hudson's bill was welcomed by the firearms industry and pro-gun groups with open arms.
"National concealed carry reciprocity is a long-overdue solution to help more responsibly armed Americans protect themselves and their families," said the U.S. Concealed Carry Association in a statement. "It’s time for elected officials on both sides of the aisle to make the right choice by putting individual and family protections first."
The current party breakdown of the House has Dems with a razor-thin 222-211 margin over Republicans. In the Senate, with the outcome of special run-off elections in Georgia decided this week, Dems will hold sway over a split 50-50 chamber. Sen. Chuck Schumer will be the expected Senate Majority Leader, and the inbound Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tie-breaking votes.