Here’s What You Need to Know About the Two Gun Bills Before Congress
Following the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, which has so far led to 59 deaths and over 500 injured, the public is once again calling attention to gun regulations. Two bills related to firearms — the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 — have been introduced to Congress in recent months, and are now under close public scrutiny following the mass shooting on Sunday. Both bills would, in essence, make it easier for people to carry concealed weapons under certain circumstances.
While neither bill is currently scheduled for a vote on the House floor, the LA Times reports that House Republicans are still in motion to move pro-gun legislation forward. As the nation continues its debate on how best to handle gun violence, here’s a look at two Republican-sponsored gun bills in Congress.
the sportsmen’s heritage and recreational enhancement (share) act
The SHARE Act was first introduced to Congress in 2015 and, after seeing little movement during the Obama presidency, was reintroduced in its current form last month. The bill is backed by the powerful National Rifle Association, which gave $50.2 million to Republican candidates (including Donald Trump) during the 2016 election cycle.
The SHARE Act would legally allow people to bring registered firearms across state lines and would also allow people to carry registered firearms in national parks. But the biggest talking point about this bill is that it would make silencers much easier to get ahold of without a background check, while also getting rid of the $200 transfer tax associated with their purchase. Because of this, the SHARE Act is often referred to as “the silencer law.”
The language of the bill focuses on recreational hunters, but critics argue that while silencers make firing weapons easier on the ears for hunters, they can also make mass shootings even more dangerous and deadly. David Chipman, a senior policy adviser with the organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, told NPR in March that easing restrictions on silencers would be dangerous because people may not be able to identify gunfire when a silencer is used.
Proponents of the bill argue that easing the purchase of silencers will help to protect hunters’ ears and hearing. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this week that the bill is not currently a priority, the Wall Street Journal reports.
the concealed carry reciprocity act
If signed into law, the CCRA would allow gun owners to conceal and carry firearms across state lines, so long as they have a conceal and carry permit in their own state. This means that a gun owner in a state that allows concealed carry could travel to another state with different laws, and effectively override the local laws with the permit obtained from their own state. Further, the bill also stipulates that “qualified individuals” will not be forbidden from carrying concealed weapons in school zones or public, federally owned land if they cross state lines.
In states where gun laws are more strict, there is concern that the CCRA will sharply increase the number of guns in their states, without any recourse on the state level to prevent concealed firearms coming in. Some have argued that making it even easier to travel with concealed weapons is additionally dangerous because there are currently no federal requirements for universal background checks for people seeking to buy guns. Right now, federal law requires background checks only from licensed sellers, which only account for 60 percent of gun sales in the US.
Richard Hudson, a Republican Congressman from North Carolina and the sponsor of the CCRA, wrote in June for The Hill that the law is necessary so concealed carry firearm owners can travel from state to state “without worrying about conflicting concealed carry state codes or onerous civil suits.”
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(Photo via Zach Gibson/Getty)