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  • Associated Press Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday where they were told federal firearms regulators may ban bump stocks.

Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:00 am

House OKs gun rights measure

Concealed-carry permits could cross state lines

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Republicans rammed a bill through the House on Wednesday that would make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. It's the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.

The House approved the bill, 231-198, largely along party lines. Six Democrats voted yes, while 14 Republicans voted no. All seven House Republicans from Indiana, including 3rd District Rep. Jim Banks, voted in favor, and both Hoosier Democrats voted against it.

The measure would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. It now goes to the Senate.

Republicans said the reciprocity measure, a top priority of the National Rifle Association, would allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits.

Opponents, mostly Democrats, said the bill could endanger public safety by overriding states' own rules on granting concealed-carry permits.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., called the bill an attempt to undermine states' rights, “hamstring law enforcement and allow dangerous criminals to walk around with hidden guns anywhere and at any time. It's unspeakable that this is Congress' response to the worst gun tragedies in American history.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Brandon, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that his agency expects to regulate bump-stock devices and could end up banning them.

The Justice Department announced this week it is reviewing whether weapons using bump stocks should be considered illegal machine guns under federal law. The review comes after a Las Vegas gunman used the device during an October rampage that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more. Bump stocks allow semi-automatic rifles to fire nearly as fast as an automatic rifle.

Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.