Earlier this week, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and his Republican colleagues in the House voted in favor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a bill that allows someone who obtains a concealed handgun permit in one state to travel with a concealed handgun to another state that allows concealed carry. All but 14 House Republicans voted in favor of the bill, but just six Democrats supported it.
The bill requires states that have stricter permitting processes to honor the concealed carry permits of legal gun owners from other states. Advocates argue that the bill merely extends the same reciprocity afforded to people with drivers licenses and marriage certificates, which are valid everywhere. With concealed carry permits valid nationwide, they say, legal gun owners should face fewer incidents of arrest or prosecution due to confusion about laws of different states.
But opponents argue that the CCRA threatens states’ rights and autonomy. Some states, for instance, require citizens to take gun safety classes before granting a concealed carry permit, while others don’t. Experts suspect that the law probably won’t affect states that already have lax permitting requirements, but it could lead to a spike in concealed carrying in states that are more restrictive. More guns on the street might undermine law enforcement, and there’s evidence that concealed carry laws are correlated with increases in violent crime rates.
The CCRA is the first major piece of gun legislation since Stephen Paddock killed 58 people in Las Vegas and Devin Kelley killed 26 in Texas earlier this year. The legislation also requires the department to study, but not ban, bump stocks, the controversial piece of firearms equipment that allowed Paddock to essentially transform his semiautomatic rifle into a fully automatic rifle.
The legislation’s passage was celebrated by Republicans and gun advocates. The National Rifle Association executive director, Chris Cox, called it a “watershed moment.”
Democrats, on the other hand, have broadly condemned the legislation. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fl.) called the bill “a disgraceful handout to the powerful gun lobby and gun manufacturers,” and said the party’s initials “GOP” should stand for “guns over people.”
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Ct.), who represents Newtown, the site of a 2012 massacre in which 20 elementary school children and six teachers were murdered in a mass shooting, called the bill “an outrage and an insult to the families” of those killed by gun violence.
And former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords (D) urged lawmakers to take more serious action to stem America’s gun epidemic. “Thoughts & prayers alone won’t prevent the next horrific shooting,” she wrote in a tweet. “This is not the kind of leadership our nation deserves.”
Rep. Paulsen has regularly endorsed legislation that made our country less safe. He’s voted 13 times to block gun safety legislation, and was given the lowest possible rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in its 2013-2014 congressional survey.
The bill will now move on to the Senate for debate.
Featured image via YouTube.