On Wednesday, one month after the tragic church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, House Republicans passed a bill that would force concealed carry permit reciprocity. In other words, similar to a state driver’s license, a concealed carry permit would be required by law to be honored across state lines. Organizations such as the National Rifle Association count the bill’s advancement toward law as a huge win for the Second Amendment, while many opponents fear that looser restrictions on lawful gun ownership will put more Americans at risk.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed the House by a 231-198 vote, almost exactly along party lines. Its timing cannot be ignored, as the December 6th vote comes one month after Devin Kelley shot and killed 26 people in the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church with illegally purchased guns before he was apprehended by Stephen Willeford, a lawful gun owner.
The bill could have dramatic implications for places like New York City, which has very strict concealed carry permit restrictions but would be required honor permits from other states, such as Vermont, that require no permits. Second Amendment proponents tout universal concealed carry reciprocity as a safeguard for “good guys with a gun” to travel more easily with lawfully-owned firearms, but opponents and some members of law enforcement are concerned that this bill would reduce concealed carry standards to the weakest state link.
The bill, which comes with a background check provision, is considered by some to be “dead on arrival” once it reaches the Senate because Republicans would need to enlist the support of a many Democrats to overcome an inevitable filibuster.
Representatives in the House offered sharply divided commentary on the bill: “How can we face the families of [shooting victims] and say this bill is the best we could do?” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA.) said after the vote. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY.), however, said that under current laws, “those traveling or living on the border of a state that does not recognize their home state’s laws could have their gun rights stripped when they cross state lines. That’s wrong. This bill is crucial to protecting our constitutional rights.”