House to Vote on National Gun-Carry Reciprocity, Background Check Fix Bill this Week

Bills likely to be combined, vote likely to come on Wednesday

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December 4, 2017

The House of Representatives will vote on national gun-carry reciprocity and gun background check fix bills this week.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 and the Fix NICS Act will be combined and likely voted on Wednesday, a GOP aide told the Washington Free Beacon Monday.

"It is my understanding they may be combined," the aide said. "Rules is meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday. They have both. Floor vote should be Wednesday."

The House Committee on Rules website shows the texts of the two bills combined as well as an amendment filed by Rep. Dina Titus (D., Nev.) that would strip the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act from the bill. The Republican-controlled committee is likely to defeat the amendment and move the combined bill to the House floor where it is currently scheduled for a vote on or after Wednesday. The bill, which currently has 213 cosponsors, is likely to pass the House vote.

It will then move to the Senate where it will face an uphill battle to garner the 60 votes necessary for passage.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), who introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, expressed optimism about the growing momentum behind the bill since it passed the Judiciary Committee last week.

"An overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity. Momentum, common sense, and the facts are on our side," Rep. Hudson said in a statement. "I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for his strong support of the Second Amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support this common-sense bill to protect law-abiding citizens."

Gun-rights activists and gun-control activists have fiercely disagreed over national gun-carry reciprocity. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has made the issue its top priority and announced its intention to get a vote on the issue before the end of the year during its convention earlier this year.

"Our number-one legislative priority remains right-to-carry reciprocity," Chris Cox, head of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon at the time.

The NRA and other gun rights proponents have pointed to the case of Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia mother arrested for carrying a gun in New Jersey despite having a valid Pennsylvania gun-carry permit. Allen spent 40 days in prison and lost her job before being pardoned by Gov. Chris Christie (R., N.J.). Allen was punished, activists said, because New Jersey refuses to recognize gun-carry permits of law-abiding citizens from other states.

Cox cheered passage of the bill through committee last week as a defense of the rights of people like Allen.

"Law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense while traveling across state lines without fear of unknowingly breaking the law," Cox said. "For years, the National Rifle Association's top legislative priority has been to pass National Concealed Carry Reciprocity, a much-needed solution to the confusing patchwork of state and local gun laws. The NRA and law-abiding gun owners across America are excited to see this important legislation headed for a vote in the House of Representatives."

Gun-control activists, on the other hand, have decried national gun-carry reciprocity as "dangerous" and are actively opposing its passage.

"With Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs still in shock over their communities' losses, Congress is actually moving to weaken our public safety," former congresswoman Gabby Giffords said in a statement. "It's an extraordinary violation of the public's trust. Elections have consequences. We will be watching—and acting."

Giffords's self-named gun control group is now running TV ads opposing the national gun-carry reciprocity bill in Minnesota and New Jersey swing districts, a radio ad in Southern California, as well as a digital ad campaign.

The Fix NICS Act, which seeks to better hold military, state, and federal agencies accountable for turning over criminal records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), has not faced the same opposition. Gun-rights and gun-control activists have supported its passage in the wake of the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., which left 26 dead. The shooter was able to pass background checks and purchase firearms because the Air Force had not shared his disqualifying criminal records with the system.

Last month, two former special agents for a Defense Department law enforcement agency told the Washington Free Beacon they had warned about issues with record sharing between the military and the FBI but were ignored. A review of decades of reports from the military's watchdog agency backs up the agents' claims and shows negligence from all branches continued in spite of repeated warnings and policy changes.

Rep. John Culberson (R., Texas), who introduced the Fix NICS Act, said it will address the problems in the system and save lives.

"Had existing law been enforced, the terrible tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas, would have never occurred," Culberson said. "There is simply no excuse for the ongoing negligence of criminal history reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). I'm greatly encouraged by this bipartisan effort to ensure federal and state authorities enforce existing law. I urge my colleagues in Congress to support this lifesaving piece of legislation."

The NRA, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety have all expressed support for the Fix NICS Act.