WASHINGTON (ABC4 Utah) – The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill expanding the rights of gun owners. It would allow gun owners to carry weapons in states where they don’t live. The bill has been called a legislative priority for the NRA.
In Arkansas you have to be 21 to get a conceal carry permit unless you’re a member of the military, but Arkansas’s permit laws only apply within state borders. Some in Congress want to change that.
The hearing on Capitol Hill saw testy exchanges.
“This is crazy,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D- Tenn.
With Democrats like Congressman Steven Cohen saying the bill forces his home state of Tennessee to accept weaker gun laws of other states.
“People from Mississippi and Alabama can come up and carry a gun in Tennessee and show their buddies and say hey I’ve got my gun but you can’t carry yours,” said Cohen.
The bill forces states to honor conceal carry permits from other states, but the permitting process varies across the country.
Some states like Tennessee require most permit holders to be at least 21 years old. Others like Mississippi and Alabama the age is 18.
“People under 21 are less likely to be mature to carry a gun that’s why 34 states have those laws,” said Rep. Cohen.
Republicans argue the patchwork of laws from state to state make it difficult for legal gun owners to navigate.
“Law abiding Americans should be able to exercise their right to self-defense even when they cross out of their state’s borders,” said Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
Some police groups oppose the bill saying it’ll make their jobs more dangerous, but Representative John Rutherford who spent decades in law enforcement disagrees.
“We want good people carrying guns,” said Rep. Rutherford, R-Fla.
The bill is being pushed by the powerful National Rifle Association and has the support of many Republicans in Congress. Gun safety groups oppose the proposal. It could run into a roadblock in the Senate where it needs Democratic votes to pass.