File Photo: Rhino 500 handguns are on display at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits on April 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images, File

Following mass shootings, House GOP votes to expand gun rights

It’s rare to see bipartisan agreement in Congress on any kind of legislation related to gun policy, but Democrats and Republicans recently agreed to a modest measure to improve national background check system.

But before the proposal could pass the House, Republicans decided to add something to it.

The House approved a Republican bill on Wednesday making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.

The “concealed carry” bill is the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people. The House approved, 231-198.

The Associated Press’ report added that the change “is a top priority of the National Rifle Association,” which helps explain why GOP lawmakers made this change to an otherwise bipartisan bill.

The point of the policy is to effectively override state-based conceal-carry restrictions. As the New York Timesarticle explained, “Some states … require that permit applicants have live-fire experience and safety training, along with a clean criminal history. Others are more lenient, and a dozen states do not even require a permit. The House bill would not force states to change their own laws, but it would treat a concealed-carry permit like a driver’s license, letting individuals allowed by one state to carry a concealed weapon with them into another state.”

As a political matter, it’s likely that the House bill will struggle in the Senate, where the bill will need 60 votes, which means the bipartisan effort on the background check system will die because of House Republicans’ efforts to approve the NRA-backed measure.

But let’s also not miss the larger context: two of the five deadliest mass shootings in modern American history have occurred since October. It’s already been a brutal year for mass killings in the U.S., and the year isn’t quite over yet.

It’s against this backdrop that congressional Republicans are pursuing policies to expand gun rights, not limit them.