(CNSNews.com) – The House Judiciary Committee, on a 19-10 vote Tuesday, sent to the House floor a bill that would make it legal for a gun owner who obtains a concealed-carry license in one state to carry a concealed gun in all 49 states where that practice is legal.
The measure is being called an infringement of state authority by gun-control activists, but Second Amendment supporters say it is public safety issue.
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 would permit anyone with a state license to carry a concealed firearm to do so in any state which allows concealed-carry permits, and in any state that does not prohibit concealed firearms. The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday ratified amendments to the bill and reported it to the House.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control activist group, which has led opposition to the law, said on its Web site that H.R. 822 would “override state laws” by allowing people to carry concealed weapons without having “met basic licensing or training requirements mandated for carrying in that state.”
A spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, meanwhile, said that the law would be a ‘license’ for some people to break state concealed-carry regulations.
“H.R. 822 not only allows someone who would violate your standards for concealed-carry screening, but also someone who violates your possession standards to come in your state with a concealed handgun,” Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the coalition, told CNSNews.com.
“So you might have someone who bought a handgun through a private sale in another state where they never even had to undergo a background check and then got a mail-order license from Utah carrying on your streets,” Everitt said. “What does California law enforcement know about that person? Nothing.”
But the National Rifle Association told CNSNews.com that the bill did not cause a conflict, since states still set their own concealed-carry standards.
“It does not change any state laws; the states will still be responsible for creating their own gun laws,” said Rachel Parsons, a media spokesperson for the NRA. “They will still be responsible for maintaining their own processes in which to get a concealed carry permit,”
The NRA also argues that the bill enhances Second Amendment rights.
“We think that allowing law-abiding people who have gone through all the legal channels to get a concealed carry permit should be able to use those firearms should they need to in the event of self-defense, and we don’t think that arbitrary lines should stop your Second Amendment freedoms,” Parsons said.
Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners Association of America, said that the bill would make interstate travel safer -- especially for long-haul truckers.
“If a potential criminal or an actual criminal can see for whatever reason that you’re a visitor, and he’s pretty sure that you’re not carrying a gun, that increases your odds of having trouble,” said Pratt.
Congressmen on both sides of the aisle support the measure – but some well-known supporters have reconsidered their positions.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) broke with his party and voted against the bill during the Tuesday committee vote. Lungren told the press in his home state that the bill didn’t strike a good balance between gun rights and state’s rights.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), withdrew his support from the bill on Oct. 12, saying that it was repugnant to his view of state rights.
The bill must still pass both the House and the Senate before it could be sent to the president’s desk to become law. In 2009, a similar bill died in the Senate.