House Republicans introduced a bill earlier this week that would require the Transportation Security Administration to accept certain gun carry permits as valid forms of identification.
The Nondiscriminatory Transportation Screening Act, introduced by Reps. Diane Black (R., Tenn.) and Bill Flores (R., Texas), would reverse TSA policy regarding the permits.
TSA policy currently excludes gun permits as an acceptable form of ID.
"A weapon permit is not an acceptable form of identification," the TSA's guide on identification states.
The guide lists a number of other similar forms of identification such as government-issued driver's licenses and photo IDs, as acceptable. It also includes forms of ID such as temporary paper driver's licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and credit cards as potential alternatives to government-issued photo IDs so long as two are provided. The guide does not limit passengers to those documents and states only that one of the alternative IDs "must bear your name and other identifying information such as photo, address, phone number, social security number or date of birth."
"There is no standard list of what alternate forms of ID are acceptable," the guide says.
The guide does not give a reason for the ban on gun permits. Most states list the identifying information required by the TSA on the gun carry permits issued. Some states, such as Tennessee, also include photos on the permits they issue and require permit holders submit their fingerprints to state police.
Rep. Black told the Washington Free Beacon she was inspired to create the Nondiscriminatory Transportation Screening Act after her own gun carry permit was rejected by the TSA as she tried to board a plane to Washington, D.C.
"I had left my driver's license as well as my credit card in the back pocket of my jeans because I'd gone to the store that day and didn't take my wallet," she said. "I thought ‘well, no problem' because I have a state-issued ID in my gun carry permit which looks exactly like my license. It has all of the identifying information on it that my license does."
"In addition to that, you know, you have to do a background check and submit fingerprints in the state of Tennessee in order to get your gun carry permit. So I thought ‘no brainer.' I got up to the check-in and the TSA agent said ‘I'm sorry we're not allowed to take gun carry permits.’"
Rep. Black was eventually able to board the plane thanks to a voter registration card, but the situation moved her to address the problem. She said her bill is designed to "make sure the ground rules are fair to everyone" and keep the process from being dictated by a "political agenda."
The bill would force TSA to accept gun permits that meet the legal definition of a "verifying identity document" as acceptable IDs. Under federal law that means the permit must be government-issued and include the passenger's full name, date of birth, and photograph. The bill would also bar TSA from keeping records on who is using gun permits as an ID.
TSA did not comment on the bill and would not provide an explanation for why they don't currently accept gun permits as IDs.
"TSA does not comment on pending legislation," Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for TSA, said.
Black is currently trying to collect more co-sponsors for the bill. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote, but Black said she has been encouraged by the support she has seen from her colleagues thus far.