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House passes bill requiring states recognize concealed gun permits

JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images/File

The bill, which the National Rifle Association has called its “highest legislative priority in Congress,” would amend the federal criminal code to allow the concealed transport of handguns across state lines, so long as both states allow concealed carry.

By Polly Mosendz Bloomberg News 

The US House of Representatives passed the Conceal Carry Reciprocity bill on Wednesday, bringing America one step closer to effectively allowing all Americans to secretly carry firearms in all 50 states.

The bill, which the National Rifle Association has called its “highest legislative priority in Congress,” would amend the federal criminal code to allow the concealed transport of handguns across state lines, so long as both states allow concealed carry. This federal law would supersede any state statutes on concealed firearms.

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The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill in an 19-11 vote and rejected numerous amendments brought by Democrats, including those seeking to ban violent offenders from the bill. The Senate and is considering similar legislation.

If the bill becomes law — President Trump is expected to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk — such a law is expected to face numerous legal challenges on the basis that the legislation will be an illegal federal intrusion on state’s rights.

“First, we fully expect that the Senate will hear the voices of law enforcement and the public, and stop this dangerous legislation from becoming law,” Eric Tirschwell, director of litigation and national enforcement policy for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group, said in a statement. “But if it were to make it to the president’s desk, we’d be waiting on the other side fully prepared to challenge it in court.”

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is “working on developing the legal arguments, as well as the evidentiary basis, for challenging the law,” J. Adam Skaggs, the group’s chief counsel, said in an interview. “I think the structure of what this law will seek to do is unprecedented, and it’s also unconstitutional because it violates core principals of federalism.” 

The bill has also been criticized by law enforcement, though the National Fraternal Order of Police hasn’t taken a position on the overall bill, which was sponsored almost exclusively by Republicans. “Overriding states’ conceal carry standards with the lowest common denominator means more concern for the cops that I command,” said Kevin Davis, the Baltimore Police Commissioner, earlier this week. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo raised similar fears. “We here in Texas law enforcement, and most law enforcement, do not support reciprocity,” he said.