(NewsCore) - The US House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill that would allow gun owners with a concealed-weapons permit issued by one state to carry their concealed firearms in other states.
The bill, officially named H.R. 822 or the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, passed the lower chamber by a vote of 272-154.
The measure would apply to all states with the exception of Illinois which does not allow concealed carry permits.
Sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), the bill received the support of several moderate Democrats in addition to a majority of House Republicans.
The bill's backers argued that the bill would reduce the current confusion resulting from different states having different concealed permit laws and allow gun owners to travel across state lines without worrying about breaking the law in those states.
"We need to have a uniform standard so that gun owners know that they're not in legal jeopardy when they're abiding by the law when they travel among states," said Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.).
However, opponents argued that many states currently have reciprocity agreements with other states, and deemed the legislation both unnecessary and an encroachment on states' rights.
Some liberal gun-control advocates also argued that the law would lead to a relaxing of standards across the country as states that require stricter background checks would be forced to accept lower standards.
"Because any permit would suffice, this bill would create a race to the bottom, with whatever state has the most permissive concealed carry rules setting national policy," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in opposition to the measure.
Others said that was not an issue.
"It's kind of like having a driver's license," Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said. "There are some states that have stricter driving laws than others."
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate and the White House has yet to weigh in on the issue.