Background check bills, Congress recently allocated $25 million to CDC gun violence research.
United States House of Representatives chamber at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

H.R. 38, also known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, is officially scheduled for a full vote on the House floor Wednesday, December 6.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) on Jan. 3, 2017, clears up the confusing patchwork of state and local concealed carry laws by ensuring that your permit—much like a driver’s license—is valid in all 50 states, not just the state in which it was issued and other states that have a reciprocity agreement with the state of issuance.

The measure underwent a markup in the House Judiciary Committee last week and was approved there in a 19-11 party line vote. Now it moves to the House floor, where it has 213 co-sponsors and is expected to pass.

“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.”

The current version of the concealed carry reciprocity bill includes as an amendment the so-called “Fix NICS Act.” First introduced in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting, the bill would compel federal and state authorities to accurately report the criminal history of a potential gun buyer to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

But in a Facebook post, Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-4) voiced concern about merging the two bills, saying that it would use “administrative agencies, not just courts, to adjudicate your second amendment rights.”

“The bill encourages administrative agencies, not the courts, to submit more names to a national database that will determine whether you can or can’t obtain a firearm,” Massie wrote. “When President Obama couldn’t get Congress to pass gun control, he implemented a strategy of compelling, through administrative rules, the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration to submit lists of veterans and seniors, many of whom never had a day in court, to be included in the NICS database of people prohibited from owning a firearm. Only a state court, a federal (article III) court, or a military court, should ever be able to suspend your rights for any significant period of time.

“Does the NICS background check system have problems? Yes, it results in tens of thousands of unjustified denials of gun purchases every year,” Massie continued. “But like many bills in Congress, the fix-NICS doesn’t live up to its name – it will likely do the opposite. It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms.”

Massie posits that if the bills were combined in order to ensure reciprocity passes the Senate, it’s a moot point anyway seeing as how Senators such as Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wouldn’t vote for reciprocity “even if it contains the fix-NICS legislation they support for expanding the background check database.”

Massie goes on to describe a possible scenario regarding the two bills.

“The House uses the popularity of reciprocity (HR 38) to sneak fix-NICS through, while the Senate passes fix-NICS only,” he writes. “The Senate and the House meet at conference with their respective bills, with the result being fix-NICS emerges from conference without reciprocity. Fix-NICS comes back to the House and passes because all of the Democrats will vote for it (as they just did in Judiciary Committee) and many Republicans will vote for it. Because Republicans already voted for it once as part of the reciprocity deal that never came to pass, they won’t have a solid footing for opposing fix-NICS as a standalone bill. Then we’ll end up with fix-NICS, which is basically an expansion of the Brady Bill, without reciprocity.”

Therefore, Massie is calling for a “de-coupling” of the Fix NICS legislation and the concealed carry reciprocity bill.

“If our House leadership insists on bringing the flawed fix-NICS bill to the floor, they shouldn’t play games. We should vote separately on HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill, and HR 4477, the fix-NICS bill. And we should be given enough time to amend the fix-NICS bill, because it needs to be fixed, if not axed.”


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