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People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival during a mass shooting on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: David Becker/Getty Images)

Two Months After Nation's Deadliest Mass Shooting, GOP House Passes 'Dangerous' Bill to Undermine Local Gun Control Laws

"If this bill becomes law, the body count of innocent victims killed by concealed carry permit holders will only rise."

Julia Conley

Gun control advocates denounced a House vote on Wednesday approving major legislation which would allow gun owners to carry licensed concealed weapons across state laws—effectively voiding gun control laws that prohibit hidden firearms in certain states.

The House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 in a 231-198 vote. The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote that the law is "clearly aimed at undermining gun control efforts nationally," while the National Rifle Association (NRA) called the measure its "highest legislative priority" for the year.

Kristen Rand, Legislative Director of the Violence Policy Center, said after the bill passed, "Today's winners are the NRA and the gun industry, the losers are public safety and law enforcement. If this bill become law, the body count of innocent victims killed by concealed carry permit holders will only rise."

"Just two months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, we should not be weakening our nation's gun laws."—Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) would make a gun owner's concealed carry permit issued in states like Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, and others—including 19 states where permit-holders are not required to complete any safety training to qualify for concealed carry—valid in states that have passed more stringent gun control laws.

"In other words, Georgia and other states would have more say than New York in determining how many guns are safe to have on the streets of Manhattan," wrote the New York Times editorial board on Wednesday. "The inflow of weapons that could then be carried around secretly would threaten law and order."

Anticipating the vote, the Violence Policy Center and Moms Demand Action shared statistics related to concealed weapons:

In a bid to win support for the legislation from those who generally back stringent gun control measures, pro-gun representatives merged the bill with the Fix NICS Act, which has broad bipartisan support and is aimed at reinforcing the national criminal background check system by strengthening reporting requirements and helping government agencies to report criminal activity more effectively.

"It's a small step forward, but not nearly enough to overcome the awfulness of the Reciprocity Act," wrote the Los Angeles Times of the Fix NICS Act.

At a press conference held by gun control advocacy groups Giffords and Newtown Action Alliance, law enforcement officials added their voices to the call to oppose H.R. 38.

Major Sabrina Tapp-Harper, who heads the domestic violence unit at the Baltimore City Sheriff's office, stressed that the law would create new risks for abuse survivors who flee their attackers and attempt to start over in new states. (Although federal law prohibits people who have been convicted of domestic abuse from buying guns, the law only applies to spouses, leaving what's known as the "boyfriend loophole."

"I've seen the incredible danger that comes from a domestic violence abuser with a gun," said Tapp-Harper. "This law will take away the ability of victims to seek refuge in states without stronger laws to protect them."

Other gun control advocates said the weakening of laws in states with strict gun control will also allow domestic abusers to apply for a concealed carry permit in a more permissive state, even if they would be banned from doing so at home.

"The efforts that some states have made will be for naught," Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told the Huffington Post. "Domestic abusers are very crafty. If we think they don't know about these laws and ways around them, we are sadly mistaken."

On social media, opponents of H.R. 38 denounced the bill and urged constituents to fight against its passage in the Senate.

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