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House Finally Does Something About Guns: Makes Them More Easily Available
When your only tool is a GE M134 Minigun, every problem looks like confetti
So, thank goodness, in the very first gun legislation to make any progress in Congress since the mass shootings in Las Vegas and in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the House passed a bill yesterday that will mandate that all states recognize concealed-carry firearms licenses from other states, regardless of how loose the licensing requirements are in the issuing state. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act makes a really nice Christmas gift for the National Rifle Association, which made passing the thing its top legislative priority for 2017.
Yep, we might be getting a law to allow gun humpers to hump their guns across state lines before we get reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Honestly, poor kids need a far more effective lobby, and maybe some scary ads.
To make the reciprocity bill seem more worth passing, it was combined with another measure aimed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used for "instant" (really, up to three-day) checks to see if gun purchasers have criminal records, convictions on domestic abuse charges, or involuntary commitments to mental health facilities. The "Fix NICS Act" would require better compliance by state and federal agencies in reporting data to the FBI for use in NICS, which is a pretty big deal because the shooter in Texas never should have had a gun in the first place, but the Air Force failed to report his conviction for domestic violence.
The bill would also require ATF to start keeping data on the use of "bump stocks" in crimes; those are the fun accessories (to murder) that enable a semiautomatic rifle to achieve a rate of fire similar to a fully automatic weapon. The Las Vegas shooter had a whole room full of the goddamned things. No actual restrictions on the sale of bump stocks are in the bill, but ATF is at least considering tightening its regulations on them, or possibly banning them outright.
The NRA has been pushing the reciprocity bill as a matter of simple fairness -- if your California driver's license is good in Iowa, why shouldn't your concealed carry license be good everywhere else, too? Of course, pretty much all states require at least some demonstration -- at the age of 16, admittedly -- of the ability to drive a car, while states vary more widely on the conditions for a concealed carry permit. Some states require extensive training, gun-range training, and even a test of the applicant's ability to hit a target with some degree of accuracy. Other states issue a permit to anyone who applies. Twelve states allow concealed carry of a handgun with no permit of all. Guess which states are going to be really popular with idiots? Haha, we kid -- they already are, obviously.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a mass shooting that killed six in 2011, said, "Congress has failed the American people":
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. Let's be clear: These politicians are trading our safety for political contributions from the gun lobby.
Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, co-founded the gun safety group Americans for Responsible Solutions (the group recently changed its name to just " Giffords "). Not seeing too many responsible solutions in the House this year.
While the concealed carry bill easily passed the House 231-198 (with six Dems voting for it, and 14 Rs against), the Senate is another matter. For a change, the reciprocity bill is not by any stretch of the imagination a funding bill, so it's actually subject to a filibuster, and it's uncertain whether eight Democrats can be found to vote for it, although seven currently serving Dems did vote for a similar reciprocity bill in 2013. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said any bill that combined concealed carry reciprocity with a fix to the background check system would be "dead in the Senate [...] So this is just theater this week in the House. This isn’t lawmaking." Even second-ranking Republican John Cornyn told the Daily Caller last week that while he supported both bills (concealed carry and fixing the NICS), he wanted them kept separate: "Combining them, I think, is to risk doing nothing,” he said.
Based on Senate performance this year, that almost certainly means the bills will be combined, and amendments repealing Obamacare and defunding ACORN will be added in.
To balance out the reciprocity measure, the District of Columbia's nonvoting member of Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, filed an amendment Monday to help rightwing legislators prove they really do trust responsible American gun owners. Her amendment would keep the reciprocity law from going into effect until Congress also removed restrictions on law-abiding Americans packing heat in the Capitol complex. After all, a gun isn't anything to be afraid of, and surely if someone showed up in the gallery with an AR-15 and started shooting, some hero lawmaker would pull their gun and send bullets in the other direction, thus saving the day after only a moderate body count.
It sounds like a pretty good "Gotcha" amendment, at least until you realize last year, Iowa congressman Steve King proposed allowing legislative aides to carry guns on Capitol grounds. He just didn't push his brilliant idea far enough. Sadly, Norton's perfectly reasonable amendment wasn't part of the final version of the House bill.
Correction: We originally had the name of the #2 Senate Republican as "John Conyers," because sometimes our brain thinks bad. Wonkette regrets the error.