BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana would strip the requirement that gun owners have a permit to carry concealed firearms under ain contrast to a national debate over whether to tighten gun restrictions. The 3-2 to the full Senate fell along party lines, with Republicans supporting the measure while Democrats opposed it. A Senate judiciary committee narrowly backed the proposal by Sen. Jay Morris, a Monroe Republican.
“The bill does not make it easier to buy guns,” Morris said. “This is a bill for law-abiding citizens.”
The measure would allow anyone 21 years or older in Louisiana to carry a concealed handgun if the person isn’t barred from having a firearm because of a violent crime conviction or other legal prohibition. CurrentPolice to carry a concealed firearm, with several hours of training, fingerprinting, and fee payment. Supporters argued the permitting requirements violate their constitutional rights to bear arms. In contrast, opponents argued removal of the permit could jeopardize public safety by eliminating a need for training on gun use.
“We shouldn’t need the government’s permission to defend ourselves,” said Chris Patron with the Firearms Professionals of Louisiana. But Sen. Troy Carter, a New Orleans Democrat who said he has a concealed carry permit, told bill supporters: “Having people who are not trained is dangerous.”
Morris said 20 other states don’t require a concealed carry permit.
The Louisiana Association ofopposed the proposal as a threat to public safety. Sen. Regina Barrow, a Baton Rouge Democrat, echoed the concerns, must go through it to carry a concealed firearm.
To drive, you have to have a license,” Barrow said.
Morris replied: “It’s the difference between privilege and a right. The right to drive isn’t the Constitution, but the right to keep and bear arms is. Supporters of Morris’ bill said police officers must already think that because of people who have illegal weapons. But Barrow said she worried it would make interactions between the public and law enforcement more contentious becausewould have to assume anyone they pull over is carrying a weapon. Dan Zelenka, president of Louisiana
The shooting Association said the permitting process could be costly. He estimated it could carry a price tag of around $300, between thefor a five-year permit. Sen. Franklin Foil, the Baton Rouge Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary C Committee, raised questions about the lost revenue to the police by removing the permitting requirement. No financial analysis of the bill has been released yet, but that could force it to a second committee hearing before the Senate budget committee.
If the House and Senate approved the proposal, would take effect on Aug. 1.
The bill’sSens. Mark Abraham of Lake Charles, Beth Mizell of Franklinton, and Rick Ward of Port Allen. Voting against the bill were Barrow and Carter. The foil didn’t vote.
The bill is filed as Senate Bill 118.
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