A national gun-carry reciprocity bill passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The Concealed Carry National Reciprocity Act of 2017 made it through the house vote with 231 yes votes, 198 no votes, and 5 congressmen not voting. An overwhelming number of Republicans, 225, voted for the bill while 14 Republicans voted no and one did not vote. Most Democrats, 184, voted against the bill while six Democrats voted yes and three did not vote.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), who introduced the bill, called its passage an early Christmas present for gun rights advocates.
“For the millions of law-abiding citizens who lawfully carry concealed to protect themselves, for conservatives who want to strengthen our Second Amendment rights, and for the overwhelming majority of Americans who support concealed carry reciprocity, Christmas came early,” Rep. Hudson said.
Gun rights activists cheered the bill’s passage while gun control proponents decried it.
The National Rifle Association, which has declared national gun-carry reciprocity its top priority, said the vote represented a history victory for gun rights advocates.
“This vote marks a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the group’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is the culmination of a 30-year movement recognizing the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, and their loved ones, including when they cross state lines.”
Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, on behalf of her self-named gun control group, called the move dangerous.
“Congress has failed the American people,” she said. “After two of our nation’s worst mass shootings, Congress took direct instruction from the gun lobby and passed a bill that will override existing state laws and allow dangerous, untrained people to carry guns in every state and every city.”
The bill also included provisions addressing the records reporting failures in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which were exposed by the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 dead. The shooter in that case was able to pass a background check and purchase firearms because disqualifying criminal records from his time in the Air Force were not shared with the FBI.
The provisions aimed at coaxing better compliance with already established reporting requirements were supported by congressmen from both parties as well as prominent gun rights and gun control groups.
The bill now heads to the Senate where it faces a harder road to passage and could even be split back into two separate bills.