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Wednesday January 24th, 2018 4:23AM

The Latest: GOP-led House passes NRA-backed gun bill

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on legislation intended to make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines (all times local):

4:44 p.m.

The House has approved a Republican bill making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. The bill is the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.

The House approved the bill Wednesday, 231-198.

The bill is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, which calls it an important step to allow gun owners to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state laws or civil suits.

Opponents, mostly Democrats, say the bill could endanger public safety by overriding state laws that place strict limits on guns.

Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut called it "unspeakable" that Congress would expand gun owners' rights after the recent shootings and other deadly attacks.

____

1:20 p.m.

A Maryland police chief is calling on Congress to pass legislation that prohibits the use of devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at dramatically faster rates.

J. Thomas Manger, the police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, says during congressional testimony the devices known as bump stocks have no legitimate sporting or hunting purpose.

He says, "A device that results in a military attack, equivalent to full automatic firing, must be stopped."

Manger says the gunman who carried out the mass shooting in Las Vegas two months ago used bump stocks and was able to fire more than a-thousand rounds in a matter of minutes. Fifty nine people were killed and hundreds more were injured in the October shooting.

Manger also is president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

____

12:00 p.m.

A woman who survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas is describing in wrenching detail of how she remained by the side of one of the victims as he died.

Heather Gooze tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that she didn't know 23-year-old Jordan McIldoon. But she didn't want him to be a "John Doe." Gooze held his hand as he lay on a makeshift stretcher.

She says, "Then Jordan's fingers stopped holding mine." She recalled telling McIldoon's girlfriend and his mother that he didn't make it.

Gooze says she was a bartender at the country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire.

Gooze says she doesn't know why she didn't run, even though she had opportunities. She says, "I am not that strong. I am not that special."

____

11:30 a.m.

The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says his agency anticipates being able to exercise regulatory control over devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire faster.

Thomas Brandon told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the ATF and the Justice Department wouldn't have initiated a review of whether bump stocks should be banned "if that wasn't a possibility at the end."

The Justice Department announced Tuesday a review of bump stocks to determine whether weapons using them should be considered illegal machine guns under federal law. They are currently legal and widely available.

The review comes after a Las Vegas gunman used the device during an October rampage that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

___

10:40 a.m.

Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty says Republicans are catering to gun industry lobbyists by combining a bill on background checks with one making it easier to carry concealed guns across state lines.

Esty, who represents Newtown, Connecticut, calls the GOP maneuver "an insult to the folks in Sandy Hook," a Newtown village where 20 school children and six adults were killed in 2012.

Esty says the background check measure would help ensure mental health and criminal records are loaded into a federal database. She says "that will be a good thing to do."

But she blasted Republicans for including the measure in a "horrible bill" that she said will overturn tough gun laws in states such as Connecticut and ensure that "the lowest common denominator would reign for the entire country."

____

3:05 a.m.

The Republican-controlled House is taking up a bill to make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.

It is the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.

Republicans said the bill would allow gun owners to travel freely without worrying about conflicting state laws.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association, which calls the concealed-carry law its top legislative priority. Pelosi said Republicans were "brazenly moving to hand the NRA the biggest item on its Christmas wish list."

The House vote comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on reporting criminal history information to the FBI.

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