Louisiana Senate Votes to End Concealed Carry Permit Requirement
The Louisiana Senate voted Tuesday to end the permitting requirement for those who carry concealed weapons in the state. The measure now heads to the House for debate.
The Senate voted 27-11 in favor of the measure proposed by Sen. Jay Morris, a Republican from Monroe. GOP Senators unanimously voted for the bill, while all Democrats except Sen. Gary Smith of Norco voted against it.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has already said he'll veto the bill if it passes the House and reaches his desk.
The proposal would allow anyone 21 years old or older in Louisiana -- if the person isn't barred from having a firearm because of a violent crime conviction or some other legal prohibition -- to carry a concealed handgun without needing a permit.
It would no longer make it a requirement for gun owners wanting a concealed permit to take several hours of training on gun safety or having to pay a fee to the Louisiana State Police. However, the permit would still be available to those who want to get one. This includes those wanting to carry a concealed handgun in other states that have reciprocity agreements with Louisiana.
Supporters of the measure say the permitting requirements violate their constitutional rights to bear arms.
"This bill is about liberty. It's about freedom," Morris said.
On the opposing side, there lie concerns of simple common sense. Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat and avid hunter, says that Louisiana requires a safety course to get a hunting license, and he said that approach to require safety training for a concealed handgun was appropriate.
"Our freedom and liberty should be exercised with a good dose of common sense, and that's what we're lacking here," Luneau said of Morris' bill.
Some Democrats are also concerned about the potentially lost money that the state police and public defender offices get from the permit fees.
Again, the bill faces an uphill climb towards making it into law. Edwards has defended the current permitting process as "the right balance to strike" with its training requirements.
If the governor does veto the bill, Republicans do not have enough members in the House to override the Governor's rejection without getting support from Democrats or the chamber's two non-affiliated members.
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