The Republican-led House is weighing a bill to make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines, the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.
House GOP leaders plan to pair the concealed carry bill with a separate measure that aims to shore up the federal background check system.
It was a victory for the National Rifle Association, which claimed that the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, if approved by the Senate, will override a patchwork of state laws so concealed carry permits are universally accepted, like drivers licenses. (Kelley had purchased a firearm even though he had a prior conviction for domestic violence.) Moving the measures at the same time could offer members of both parties some incentive to go along.
The votes on the bill passed mostly along party lines, Republicans in favor and Democrats against. The measure will now have to be taken up by the Senate. Republicans said the reciprocity measure would allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or lawsuits.
NY has some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation as a result of the SAFE Act, passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor in 2013 following the Sandy Hook shootings in CT.
But Democrats who opposed the bill said more lenient gun laws opens the door for more gun violence.
"It's unspeakable that this is Congress' response to the worst gun tragedies in American history", Esty said.
Well, criminals already do that, congresswoman, but that's beside the point. By combining the national concealed weapons bill with the Fix NICS Act, the House is jeopardizing the chances of actually passing bipartisan, comprehensive reform of our broken background checks system. They also include punishments, such as stripping bonuses from political appointees, for states and agencies that don't fully comply. The text of the bill shows, however, that it does not expand the classifications of who is considered prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, nor does it expand the kinds of criminal or mental health records required to be submitted to the system.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is the co-author of the bipartisan Fix NICS Act, called the bill "a awful, unsafe idea".
"Your fundamental right to keep and bear arms should not end at the state line", the National Rifle Association argues in support of the bill.
"Before we pass new laws, we should make sure that our current laws are being effectively followed and enforced", Grassley said.
The Fix NICS bill would save lives, but shouldn't be tethered to the reciprocity bill, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, as he encouraged colleagues to vote against the proposal as it was debated on the House floor. Instead, he said, the bill's attempt to gather all of the records required under current law, which dates back almost a decade, is the problem.
"No, we are not arguing that "Fix NICS" adds new categories", Michael Hammond, general counsel for GOA, told the Free Beacon. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is working on bipartisan background check legislation, poured cold water on the idea of pairing the bills last week.
Former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, a survivor of a mass shooting that left her seriously wounded, dug up old tweets, Facebook posts and press releases from Republican lawmakers who voted for the concealed carry bill where they offered their "thoughts and prayers".