House committee to move 2 gun bills this week, including top NRA priority: concealed carry reciprocity

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider two gun measures Wednesday, including one measure that is a top priority of the National Rifle Association.

The committee will vote on a bill that allows gun owners with permits to carry concealed weapons reciprocity to travel to other states with their firearms. It will also take up another measure that updates the federal background check system after problems were exposed following a mass shooting at a Texas church earlier this month.

Congress hasn’t moved stand-alone legislation after the massacre in Las Vegas in October, when a shooter killed at least 58 people and injured hundreds more. Lawmakers from both parties said it was time to regulate bump fire stocks, accessories that the gunman used to allow his firearms to fire similar to automatic weapons. But top Republican leaders suggested new legislation may not be needed on bump stocks because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could address the issue administratively. So far the agency hasn’t publicly stated whether it plans to take action on the accessories and bipartisan legislation has been introduced to ban them, but hasn’t advanced yet in the House or Senate.

The new House legislation addressing the background check does call for a study on the devices. The bill directs the Bureau of Justice Statistics to determine how many times a bump stock was used during a crime in the United States and report back to congressional committees in six months.

The Judiciary Committee announced Monday it will mark up North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hudson’s legislation to allow concealed carry reciprocity, which means licensed gun owners will be allowed to bring their legally registered firearms to other states that have conceal carry laws. They would still need to abide by the local and state regulations in place for guns.

Second Amendment advocates maintain that gun owners today should not lose their right to bear arms as they travel across state lines, and current laws that vary in different states could mean that licensed owners could unintentionally violate the law.

“For me and the vast majority of Americans who support concealed carry reciprocity, this is welcome progress,” Hudson said in a written statement on Monday. “I want to thank Chairman Bob Goodlatte for his strong leadership to protect our Second Amendment rights. I will continue to work with my colleagues and President Trump to pass this common sense legislation to protect law-abiding citizens.”

The committee will also vote on a measure that ensures that addresses what some perceive as holes in the federal background check system, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. There is rare bipartisan support for legislation after more than 20 people were killed at a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The gunman, a former member of the US Air Force, was imprisoned for domestic abuse but the Air Force didn’t relay that history to NICS, which should have prevented him from buying the guns he used. The House bill is similar to a bill introduced by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, with the addition of language on a bump stock study.

Both bills are expected to be approved by the committee, but it’s unclear when they could be voted on by the full House of Representatives.