WASHINGTON – The U.S. House passed a measure Wednesday expanding gun rights across the country by approving a measure that would make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines.
The bill, which still needs approval from the Senate, would also close loopholes in the federal background check system.
Supporters argue the legislation will clarify a patchwork of state laws and no longer make a gun permit legal in one state and illegal in another.
“I think it’s a big deal because there are some states that don’t recognize the licenses of any other state,” Guy Relford said, an attorney specializing in the second amendment.
Relford points to laws showing Indiana recognizes gun permits from every state but only 32 recognize licenses from Indiana gun owners, making it illegal for Hoosiers to legally carry in 18 states including Illinois.
“For a state like Illinois, for example, to be worried about Indiana license to carry holders as opposed to the gang members in Chicago who are running around carrying guns illegally,” he said. “They’ve got their priorities in the wrong place.”
Nearly two dozen attorneys general are backing the measure, including Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who wrote in support that “…strong evidence indicates that concealed-carry permit holders actually deter and reduce crime.”
Opposition, though, is continuing to strongly pressure Congress.
The group Every Town for Gun Safety is helping lead the effort.
“What we need is stronger protection against gun violence not this kind of conceal carry fraud a moral outrage,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) said during an event Wednesday.
The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board wrote this week, “Not every state is so careful. Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa allow residents to get concealed-carry permits without live-fire training — which is like letting a 16-year-old get a driver’s license without any behind-the-wheel experience.”
Opposition in the Senate is still strong.
Supporters will need to win over moderate Democrats up for re-election in 2018, like Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
“You know, we’ve not seen anything in the Senate at this time,” Donnelly said Wednesday. “So I would want to see what’s before us before I make a decision.”