Congress to Gut State Gun Control Laws?

Black Berretta hand gun. Photo: Gander Mountain.

Hand gun. Photo: Gander Mountain.

— by Jeff Dempsey, CeaseFirePA

A bill that would gut state gun laws, and force states to accept the more lax concealed weapon carry standards of other states, passed the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee this week. For example, we have a licensing system in Pennsylvania which relies on a strong background check, but this bill would force us to honor concealed carry permits from states with weaker systems, and even states like Mississippi, which doesn’t require a license or permit to carry at all. The mandatory Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill (H.R. 38), is a proposal that would make it legal for more dangerous and untrained people to carry hidden guns in more public places. Despite the fact that we’ve had the worst mass shooting in modern American history this year, Congress is still doing the NRA’s bidding and pushing for action that will weaken our gun laws.

This bill is dangerous. If passed, it will force states with strong concealed carry laws to honor permits or licenses from states with weak concealed carry laws, including states that do not even require concealed carry licenses or permits at all. In 11 states, no permit is required to carry a concealed firearm. This bill does not create a national, uniform standard. It makes all states default to the lowest standard that exists.

Hand gun concealed underneath a shirt tail. Photo: CeaseFirePA

Hand gun concealed underneath a shirt tail. Photo: CeaseFirePA

This bill also would make it impossible for law enforcement officers to quickly and easily verify that people carrying a hidden weapon are doing so legally. Law enforcement agencies across the nation oppose this bill.

There is some good news, the Fix NICS Act (H.R. 2666) introduced by Senators Cornyn and Murphy also will be marked up this week. This bill requires federal agencies to share information with the national background check system and holds the agencies accountable if they do not.

CeaseFirePA is a statewide organization working with mayors, police chiefs, faith leaders, community organizations, and individual Pennsylvanians to take a stand against gun violence. Through outreach, education, coalition building, and advocacy, we work to reduce gun violence and gun tragedies in our communities, stop the flow of illegal guns onto our streets, and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

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