The House of Representatives voted yes to a law mandating that Americans’ firearm rights would be protect- ed on December 7. The first major firearms-related bill voted on since the Las Vegas and Texas shootings, loos- ens gun regulations, allowing those with permits to legally travel with fire- arms to other states. The bill passed with 231 in favor and 198 opposed. It passed mainly along party lines, with only six Democrats supporting it and 14 Republicans opposing.
In an attempt to convince Democrats to vote in favor of the bill, House Republicans balanced it with the law that all states who recognize the new concealed-carry permit would be required to better report legal and mental health records to the national background check system.
The House bill would not require states to change their own laws, but it provides the option. It would treat a gun permit as one would a driver’s license, allowing individuals to travel across states with concealed firearms. The bill also allows permit holders to carry concealed firearms in federally administered areas such as national parks and wildlife refuges. In addition, qualified permit holders would be granted the right to carry concealed guns in school zones.
Elizabeth Esty, Connecticut Democratic Representative who stands for Newtown, where five years ago 20 students and six teachers were
killed during a school shooting, called the bill “an outrage and an insult to the families [of those killed by gun violence]” in an interview with CNN. Democrats argue the bill would “jeopardize public safety and set a dangerous precedent for overriding states’ rights to determine their own laws,” further promoting gun violence. Freshman Madison Marchetta agrees: “I think, whether permit holders or not, no one should be allowed to carry guns on school grounds, even if it enables them to defend themselves in an emergency situation, as there are too many people that cannot and should not be trusted.” Republicans, such as Chris W. Cox, the N.R.A.’s executive director, praised the vote in a public statement: “This bill ensures that all law-abiding citizens in our great country can protect themselves in the manner they see fit without accidentally running afoul of the law.”
Sophomore Kyle Serro concurs, saying, “I personally believe that allowing owners to carry their licensed firearms across state lines make perfect sense. If a permit owner has separate residences in two states, for example, it would be illogical for them to be allowed to exercise that permit in only one state and not the other within the same country…”
North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hudson, the author of the bill, has similar views. On the House floor, Hudson shared a story about a woman from Pennsylvania with no criminal record who had a concealed-carry permit for her pistol that was not recognized when she traveled to New Jersey. This resulted in her later being jailed.
“This bill should be considered by all as a positive to Americans. This allows those who obey the guidelines set buy our forefathers to roam free with their legally owned firearms, just as those who do so illegally would have done regardless,” Serro added.
Global Studies Teacher David Rabinowitz is also in favor of the bill in the aspect that it allows each state to form its own opinion: “I think state control when it comes to gun laws is a better move than federal laws. I tend to feel that officials in the local area will know their people better than the federal government’s assessment as a whole. I personally don’t like guns, but I also respect people’s rights to own them.”