House weighs Republican bill easing gun restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-led House is weighing a bill to make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines, the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.

The bill would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. Republicans said the reciprocity measure would allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has accused Republicans of doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association, which calls the concealed-carry law its top legislative priority. Two months after two of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, Republicans were “brazenly moving to hand the NRA the biggest item on its Christmas wish list,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Republicans in the Judiciary Committee combined a bill on background checks with the concealed-carry permits measure, a fact Democrats called unfortunate.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary panel, said it was a cynical maneuver designed to force Democrats to vote against the background check measure.

Nadler and other Democrats say the concealed-carry bill would force those who in live in states with strong gun laws to abide by states with the weakest and most dangerous concealed-carry laws.

The House vote comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on providing criminal history information to the FBI.

The Senate is considering a bipartisan bill to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.

The Air Force has acknowledged that the Texas shooter, Devin P. Kelley, should have had his name and domestic violence conviction submitted to the National Criminal Information Center database. The Air Force has discovered several dozen other such reporting omissions since the Nov. 5 shooting.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department said Tuesday it is reviewing whether devices that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire faster should be banned. The review comes after the Las Vegas gunman used the so-called “bump stock” devices during the deadly October rampage.

A bid to ban the accessory fizzled in Congress, even as lawmakers from both parties expressed openness to the idea.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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