U.S. House Poised to Ease Transport of Concealed Guns
U.S. lawmakers were expected to vote Wednesday to let gun owners carry concealed firearms across state lines, a controversial bill that critics say is aimed at undermining national gun control efforts.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would essentially allow anyone with a permit to carry hidden weapons into any state, including those like New York and California, and the US capital Washington, which have far stronger restrictions on carrying loaded guns in public.
It would also allow people to carry concealed weapons into federally owned lands, including national parks.
Opponents worry that the move could ultimately treat concealed carry gun permits just like driver licenses: valid nationwide.
The nation's top pro-gun lobby group, the NRA, has declared the concealed carry bill its "highest legislative priority."
The Republican-backed bill is expected to pass in the House of Representatives, although prospects for a similar measure are less clear in the Senate, where such legislation would need some Democratic support in order to pass.
Most Democrats are opposed. But in order to sweeten the deal, the House Republican leadership has attached the measure to a bipartisan effort to strengthen the existing system of background checks on gun buyers.
Such a move could fracture a fragile bipartisan coalition on background checks that has emerged since back-to-back massacres in recent months.
On October 1 in Las Vegas, a shooter killed 58 concert-goers from a hotel window, and a month later in Texas a man who once escaped from a mental hospital slaughtered 26 people in a church.
Opponents of expanding concealed carry legislation say the bill would allow individuals to acquire a permit from states with the easiest requirements, and bring that gun into any other state.
"It would eviscerate state gun laws across the country and make it easy for people with dangerous histories and no training" to bring their concealed weapons across state lines, Andrew Zucker, a spokesman for the gun violence prevention network Everytown For Gun Safety, told AFP.
The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys wrote congressional leaders warning that such federal legislation "would undercut local efforts to combat gun violence."
But 24 state attorneys general disagreed.
"Authorizing permit holders to carry across state lines will not result in an increased risk of crime," argued Missouri Attorney General Joshua Hawley and 23 others in their own letter to the same congressional leaders.