(The Center Square) — A Louisiana House committee reviewed numerous gun bills on Tuesday, with some approved, and others rejected or involuntarily deferred.
Members of the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted 8-1 to approve House Bill 131, sponsored by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, to allow a person over the age of 18 to carry a concealed firearm, as long as they’re not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.
The legislation was backed by the National Rifle Association, and opposed by gun violence victims, the Louisiana Municipal Association, Moms Demand Action, the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Currently, 27 states allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, including all states bordering Louisiana.
The committee also approved HB 38, sponsored by Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, to repeal the current law that requires retired qualified law enforcement officers to recertify annually Peace Officer Standards and Training Council certification to carry a concealed firearm in the state.
Stagni noted that the requirement is more onerous than the process for citizens to obtain a concealed carry permit, and the bill passed without objection.
HB 464, sponsored by Rep. Bryan Fontenot, R-Thibodaux, cleared the committee as well, with a vote of 10-3. The bill would increase the penalty for felons prohibited from carrying a firearm from no less than five years, to no less than 10. HB 464 would further require judges to sentence those convicted of violating the prohibition consecutively with other crimes involving firearms while on probation or parole.
Rep. Raymond Garofalo, R-Chalmette, praised Fontenot for introducing legislation he said is “actually going after those criminals carrying … weapons.”
The committee also rejected several bills, including HB 284, sponsored by committee Chairman Rep. Joseph Marino, I-Gretna. HB 284 would have removed felony drug possession from the list of crimes that result in the prohibition to own or possess a firearm.
Marino argued someone convicted of possessing one pill could be prohibited from protecting their family with a gun in their home, though several committee members expressed concern about those charged with more serious drug offenses, such as distribution, that are often pled down to simple possession.
The committee also involuntarily deferred HB 175, sponsored by Rep. Delisha Boyd, D-New Orleans, that would have banned firearms in hospitals, mental health centers, and other similar facilities. It was backed by health care professionals and opposed by the NRA and Louisiana Shooting Association. Opponents cited a lack of specificity, and concerns about personal safety to and from hospitals, which are often in high-crime areas.
HB 299, sponsored by McCormick, was involuntarily deferred, as well. The bill would have prohibited state employees, elected officials, and law enforcement officers from enforcing federal laws, orders, or rules that infringe on the Second Amendment.
McCormick told the committee the legislation was spawned from the federal government’s rule regarding pistol arm braces, but committee members raised concerns the bill is unconstitutional and would create conflicts for those who take an oath to uphold both state and federal constitutions.