A bill to let people carry concealed firearms without permits in Louisiana — something supporters argue would restore a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — appears dead this legislative session after its sponsor voluntarily shelved it.
House Bill 131 would have eliminated all training and permitting requirements to carry a concealed firearm, provided gun owners are over 21 and aren't barred from owning a gun under state or federal law. But its sponsor, Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, pulled the measure after lawmakers on the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee sought to amend it heavily.
Amendments proposed Tuesday by the committee would have let people carry concealed weapons only if they took education courses and were entered in a state database to show completion of those courses.
“My supporters wouldn’t want any required training or a government list that their name would go on,” McCormick told the committee.
A hardline Second Amendment advocate, McCormick has proposed what he calls the "constitutional carry" bill in previous sessions of the Legislature. He argues that the U.S. Constitution upholds the right to carry concealed firearms, and that Louisiana's current laws take away that right.
By April of this year, 26 U.S. states had approved some form of a permitless concealed carry law, according to The Trace, a nonprofit news outlet that covers firearms. Most are in the southern, western and mid-western U.S.
Law enforcement interests, including police chiefs and sheriffs, have fought Louisiana's version of the bill, a form of which died in the Senate last year following the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2021 vetoed similar legislation that both chambers had approved with veto-proof, two-thirds majorities. But when it came to overriding Edwards' veto, the state Senate couldn’t corral enough votes.
The bill will likely come before the Legislature again in future years.
Tuesday's committee hearing was meant to focus on the measure's projected fiscal impacts. But lawmakers and other critics used the hearing to air concerns that letting people carry hidden firearms without qualifications would lead to more violence.
Fabian Blache Jr., executive director for the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Senate committee that the bill was a safety risk to law enforcement.
"Officers already look over their shoulders on a regular basis," he said. "Adding an opportunity for people 21 or older who have never had any training on a firearm to purchase or carry a firearm under their clothing, to me, is unconscionable."