The bill is H.R. 2959, and NRA has a press release out about the bill. Elections are coming up soon, and whether or not we can get this through the Senate (probably not) or through the President (definitely not) it gets lawmakers on record for an important vote. This particular bill doesn’t enumerate specific powers that Congress has to pass such a bill, but that is not strictly required. Certainly Congress has the power under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment to pass such a bill. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is a potential issue with the case of City of Boerne v. Flores case, in terms of the Court having been willing, in the past, to smack down Congress for getting out ahead of the Supreme Court in defining a right.
However, in this case, Heller contained lengthy discussion that recognized the right to carry a firearm, though not necessarily in any manner one may want, and not necessarily any place. The bill still leaves room for states to ban the carrying of concealed weapons entirely (though, at this point, no state does so). It is as respectful to the right as described in Heller as Congress could muster, so it is arguably a bill that is not getting out in front of Congress. Additionally, even if the 14th Amendment argument fails, there are at least two others that may also work. Though I’ve written before about why I think resting federal reciprocity on the interstate commerce power could be a dubious proposition, even in light of Gonzalez v. Raich, because there’s no real nexus to interstate commerce with this bill, short of arguments the court has rejected in past cases.
I’d note that I don’t think this should be the end of Congress exercising it’s 14th Amendment powers on behalf the Second Amendment, but only the beginning. Just because the Supreme Court has had a turf battle with Congress in one context doesn’t necessarily mean they will choose to in another. At the least, Congress needs to preempt DC City Council from regulating firearms above what federal law does, which it has the clear, plenary power to do. But I’d also like to see such preemption applied to all states, and finally be rid of the two Americas problem.