Top gun rights priority prospects dim, even in GOP-controlled Washington

Gun rights activists spent record amounts last year to elect Republicans — but aren’t likely to get their biggest wish, nationwide concealed carry legislation, approved before the 2018 elections.

Activists are blaming the Republicans they help put in power — as well as Democrats — for the lack of action on the gun lobby’s number one legislative priority.

“The gun rights community does not appreciate the fact that reciprocity languished for so long, and then following two tragic shootings, it seems the first initial response from some in the GOP was, ‘We need additional gun control,’ aka the NICS fix,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of the gun rights group Gun Owners of America.

That measure – aimed at fixing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System – gets support from members of both parties, and comes as the broken system failed to stop the shooter from purchasing the gun used in the Texas church massacre last month.

The House passed the background fix, tied to concealed carry reciprocity, which gun rights advocates have been pushing for years, and finally became a possibility when Republicans won control of the White House, House and Senate last year.

The Senate wants to take up the fix separately from concealed carry, causing some in the gun rights community to say GOP leaders are prioritizing a gun control measure over gun rights. Others fear they’re giving away a potential incentive they could use to get Democrats on board for concealed carry measure next year.

Gun Owners of America fought hard against the inclusion of the fix in the House bill, saying it attempts to strengthen a flawed background check program it wants ended altogether. The group asked members to vote down the whole package, with concealed carry, because the fix was part of the House legislation.

The National Rifle Association endorsed the fix, saying it would actually help law-abiding people get through background checks more easily and with fewer false-positives.

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