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House vote on concealed weapons a victory for gun lobby

November 16, 2011|By Kathleen Hennessey, Washington Bureau

The House gave gun rights advocates their first legislative win of the year in a move that some saw as a Republican reversal on protecting states' rights: approval of a federal regulation that would require states that issue concealed-weapons permits to honor such permits from other states.

The GOP-led chamber approved the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, intended to allow gun owners to travel more easily from state to state without worrying about whether their concealed carry permit was valid.

The measure passed, 272-154, with 43 Democrats crossing party lines to support it.

The legislation is not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-led Senate. A similar measure failed in the Senate in 2009, although it won support from 20 Democrats.

Opponents saw a conflict with another GOP priority -- states' rights. They argued that the proposed law would override state laws that determine who should be allow to carry a concealed weapon.

The debate put the spotlight on the familiar tug of war between state and federal power, but it was somewhat unusual to see Republicans supporting the federal side. Proponents said the move was merely an attempt to bring clarity to a complicated system of permit reciprocity – a move similar to requiring that state driver's licenses be recognized in all states.

Forty states already allow some form of concealed-weapons permits reciprocity, advocates said.

Democrats and Republicans had largely tabled the 2nd Amendment debate this session, even after the point-blank shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) at a constituents' event in Tucson in January. Wednesday's vote was a chance to win cheers from gun rights supporters, a key segment of the GOP base.

Similar base-pleasing measures have been making more frequent appearances on the House floor, as the year winds to a close and lawmakers turn to 2012 campaign mode.

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