As lawmakers in the House debated a bill Wednesday that would ease interstate travel for gun owners with permitted concealed weapons, a group of law enforcement leaders gathered with congressmen from both parties on the other side of Capitol Hill to slam the legislation as something that would "jeopardize public safety across America."
"Police officers think this is a terrible idea," said Manhattan's district attorney, Cy Vance. "Prosecutors think this is a terrible idea. You should listen to them."
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a measure with the strong backing of the National Rifle Association, would require each state to honor a concealed carry permit issued by another state regardless of local permitting restrictions. Republicans have plugged the bill for eliminating "the current maze of state and local concealed carry laws," and have cited "good guys with a gun" examples to promote the value of more legal gun possession.
Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee are expected to advance the bill after a markup Wednesday, as well as a separate measure that would update the federal background-check system.
Members from the law enforcement group, Prosecutors against Gun Violence, planned to hold meetings with lawmakers Wednesday to lobby against the concealed carry bill and to throw their weight behind a gun control bill introduced last month that would ban "bump fire stocks" or "bump stocks," the device that enabled a gunman in Las Vegas recently to fire a semiautomatic weapon similar to the rate of the automatic firearm, killing dozens of people.
"You should all listen to your common sense that one gun law that is the weakest in the nation from a state that has no permit requirements whatsoever should not be the law that applies to America," Vance said.
Republicans -- including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Dean Heller of Nevada and Roy Blunt of Missouri -- were among the members of Congress set to meet with the law enforcement leaders, according to a group official.
"The fact that they've agreed to take meetings with us underscores the credibility that prosecutors and law enforcement can have on this issue," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Peter King of New York, stood side by side with the law enforcement group at the Wednesday event and criticized the concealed carry bill as contrary to "conservative principles."
"We're supposed to believe in local control -- city, state governments deciding what's best for their state -- not having people from another state passing laws that could impact us," King said.
The support Wednesday for the bump stock bill came 59 days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead.
Speaking publicly for the first time since a news conference that immediately followed the shooting, Steven Wolfson, the district attorney of Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, urged action against the device.
"We stand together in opposition to a one-hundred-dollar device, which allowed this criminal to kill so many people and injure so many people. A bump stock -- it should be banned, it should be disallowed, it should be wiped off the face of the earth," Wolfson said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing next week on the regulation of firearm accessories, like the bump stock.