Rare bipartisan consensus around legislation to improve the national background check system for gun purchases is in jeopardy after House Republicans linked the measure to a bill allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines, the Washington Post reports. The House is expected to pass the combination bill Wednesday over the objections of Democrats, who accused Republicans of “trickery” and “sabotage” in tying the background checks bill to a concealed-carry measure the National Rifle Association called its “highest legislative priority.” In the Senate, Democrats have labeled the concealed-carry legislation a nonstarter, while leading Senate Republicans cautioned that pairing the bills is a recipe for the demise of both.
“When you put them together, it makes it harder for us to do what we can do, and can do now,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the No. 2 Republican and a co-author of the background checks legislation. “I want to separate those two out, get the ‘fix NICS’ bill passed, and hopefully save some lives.” The background-checks legislation, which forces federal agencies and encourages states to report more offenses that prohibit individuals from buying firearms, is the first gun bill in years to secure the support of Democrats, Republicans, gun-control advocates and the NRA. Bill authors credit its narrow focus — shoring up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) — for keeping together an otherwise unwieldy coalition of support. They caution against upsetting the balance by loading up the bill with other measures. “Taken together, these two bills preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to us by the Second Amendment,” said House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). “I believe that both bills complement each other in keeping people safe.”