Fact check: Did Republicans vote to allow violent criminals to carry concealed weapons?

DCNFEmily Larsen, DCNF

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed in a tweet Wednesday that House Republicans voted for a bill which would “invite” violent criminals, domestic abusers and convicted stalkers to carry concealed weapons.

“Inviting violent criminals to carry concealed weapons doesn’t save lives,” tweeted Pelosi. “Yet the @HouseGOP just voted to do exactly that.”

Verdict: False

The bill passed by the House does not eliminate or narrow any federal limitations that prevent violent criminals from owning guns and also contains provisions to incentivize better federal record-keeping to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Fact Check:

On Tuesday, House Republicans passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 38, a bill that would allow gun owners with state-issued permits to carry a concealed weapon in any other state which also allows concealed carry.

Federal law already prohibits possession of guns by those “convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” illegal drug users, people convicted of domestic violence and people subject to restraining orders concerning intimate partners or children of intimate partners. The concealed carry bill would not change those restrictions.

GOP Rep. Richard Hudson, the author of the bill, rejects claims that the legislation would override state gun laws or arm criminals.

“It’s a complete falsehood that H.R. 38 would ‘invite’ violent criminals, dangerous individuals, and convicted stalkers to carry concealed,” Hudson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “Liberal elites are either cherry-picking data to fit their agenda, or blatantly ignoring existing law which prohibits these categories of people from even possessing firearms.”

Defenders of Pelosi say that although the bill doesn’t nullify federal restrictions on violent criminals obtaining guns, it provides a pathway for those convicted of lesser misdemeanor offenses in one state to carry a gun in another state which would normally prohibit it.

One example is what gun control advocates call the “boyfriend loophole” for domestic abuse.

“Federal law narrowly defines domestic abuser. Under federal law, you’re not a domestic abuser if you abuse a partner or girlfriend who does not live with you, or is not the parent of your child,” Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, told TheDCNF.

This means that in some states, misdemeanor abuse of a boyfriend or girlfriend does not disqualify a resident from purchasing a firearm. Some states close this “loophole” by defining domestic abuse more broadly, so the reciprocity bill may impede states’ ability to limit who can carry a concealed weapon as a result.

For example, California has a broader definition of domestic violence than Florida, so “someone convicted of [domestic violence of a girlfriend] in California could get a concealed carry permit in Florida, and under this bill would be able to conceal carry a gun in California,” said Winkler. Florida, Virginia and many other states grant concealed carry permits to non-residents.

But concealed carry reciprocity is not a new concept, and states with stricter standards already recognize concealed carry permits from states with looser standards.

Right now, reciprocity is determined state-by-state. Non-resident permits from Texas and Arizona are recognized by 31 other states. Florida has concealed carry reciprocity with Delaware, even though Delaware has a broader definitionof domestic violence than Florida.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) also noted that some violent criminals are still able to obtain concealed carry permits because their crimes aren’t reported in the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), which is used by gun sellers to determine which potential gun buyers are allowed to carry a firearm.

“NICS is only as good as the records put in. If the record is not there, a state that doesn’t prioritize it’s NICS record keeping could issue a disqualified (criminal, abuser, stalker) person a permit,” Andrew Patrick, media director at CSGV, told TheDCNF in an email.

The flawed NICS system enabled the gunman in the Charleston, South Carolina and Sutherland Springs, Texas shootings to purchase guns, even though they were legally prohibited from possessing firearms.

The GOP bill, however, includes measures to improve federal record-keeping. In addition to concealed carry reciprocity, it includes the Fix NICS Act.

The Fix NICS provisions require states and federal agencies to create plans to improve record submissions, and make political appointees in federal departments that have failed to certify compliance ineligible for bonus pay.

“This important piece of legislation will ensure that more of the information already required to be uploaded to NICS under current law is actually placed into the NICS system,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in a statement on the House floor in support of the bill.

The bill also allows states to continue regulating the types of weapons and the amount of ammunition which can be carried within its borders.

“The American people are sick of these straw man arguments liberals keep using to try to restrict our Second Amendment rights,” said Hudson.

TheDCNF reached out to Pelosi’s office, but did not receive a response.

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