U.S. House Committee Advances National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

[Last] week, the House Judiciary considered amendments to H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Bill, and defeated all anti-gun amendments offered in an effort to weaken or gut the legislation.

The legislation is an important pro-gun reform that will provide for the recognition of carry permits in all states that issue permits. (For detailed information on the legislation, click here.)

The bill, as originally written, was successfully amended at the outset of the markup with a substitute that added a number of important protections. Foremost, it amended the language so that visitors to states that have laws requiring licenses just for possession of a handgun, do not need a possession license, which is often unavailable to nonresidents.

The substitute also made clear that in states with local jurisdictions that restrict carrying or possession, visitors will not need to apply for special permits from those jurisdictions.

Opponents of the bill proposed a number of anti-gun amendments that sought to use misdemeanor convictions to disqualify people from the benefits of the bill. All of these efforts were defeated, rejecting the anti-gun efforts to weaken the bill. Clearly, the majority of committee members believe that revocation of fundamental constitutional rights is not a legitimate punishment for misdemeanor violations.

One pro-gun amendment was defeated as well. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), a steadfast supporter of the Second Amendment, brought an amendment that would have allowed permit holders to carry firearms in the District of Columbia. As written, H. R. 822 does not apply reciprocity to jurisdictions that completely ban Right-to-Carry. While the amendment was well intentioned, as Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) pointed out, the bill "does not confer any expansion of the right to bear arms on the residents of the District of Columbia," and the Gohmert amendment would only have benefited visitors. It was the feeling of the majority, including nearly all those who support the bill, that H. R. 822 is not the proper vehicle for dealing with the serious problems presented by Washington, D.C.'s harshly restrictive gun laws. As Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, "this is a debate best saved for another day and another bill." NRA has fought for many years to restore the Second Amendment rights of D.C. residents and will continue to work toward that goal by fighting for passage of H.R. 645, the Second Amendment Enforcement Act.

An amendment was also added calling on the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the impact of this legislation. Unsurprisingly, opponents of the bill voted against the amendment, probably fearing that it will show, like previous government and academic studies, that the many objections they make to lawful Right-to-Carry are without basis. The study will have no impact on the reforms included in the legislation and will have no effect on concealed carry laws. This study will not delay the implementation of the bill, because it will not take place until after the legislation has taken effect.

The committee will take up the legislation and vote on final passage when Congress returns from its recess. This legislation will be an important advance in the protection of the fundamental right to self-defense, whether at home or travelling through most of America.

Full House consideration of the legislation is expected to happen in the next few weeks. Please contact your member of Congress today and urge their support for H.R. 822 and opposition to any amendments anti-gun legislators are expected to bring to weaken the legislation. You can find contact information for your elected officials by using the "Write Your Representatives" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or you can call your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121.

Copyright 2011, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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