Permitless carry bill advances

A controversial “constitutional carry” bill that will allow any Louisiana adult over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a license or training advanced out of committee Tuesday. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to advance House Bill 131 by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, to the full House. Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, was the lone No vote, while Sen. Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport, joined the committee’s three Republicans in supporting the bill.

McCormick’s legislation would eliminate existing training and background checks required to carry a concealed weapon in Louisiana. 

“House Bill 131 will restore the Second Amendment in Louisiana,” McCormick told committee members. 

McCormick offered virtually the same bill last year, but the bill stalled in the Senate following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 students and two teachers were murdered and another 17 people wounded. 

This is the fourth time McCormick has offered the proposal. The bill passed in 2021 but was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Edwards hasn’t committed to vetoing the current bill, but those close to the governor have said they expect him to veto the bill again if it passes.

The bill is opposed by a coalition of progressive and law enforcement organizations, including Louisiana Progress and Moms Demand Action, law enforcement groups and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“Allowing anyone who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under any federal or state law to conceal a firearm enhances the already existing danger to the lives of our law enforcement officers,” said Fabian Blache, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police. 

Tom Costanza, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued the bill is not pro-life. 

“It is the position of the bishops to oppose permitless carry because it will remove important and reasonable safeguards to protect human life,” Costanza said.  “The current system of training promotes a culture of responsibility and a level of comprehensive training commenced with one’s right to conceal a gun.” 

The committee made a single change to McCormick’s bill, raising the age for permitless carry from his proposed 18 to, instead of the age ofThe bill was amended by the committee to only apply to those over the age of 21. A previous version of the bill would have allowed anyone 18 or older to carry a concealed firearm without a license.

Because the bill will lead to a $4.4 million annual decrease in state permit revenue, it will likely go before the Senate Finance Committee, although the Senate could opt to discharge the bill from the committee without a vote. 

McCormick’s bill has to receive Senate backing as well as House approval on amendments before the legislature adjourns June 8.

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