Louisiana advances bill to carry concealed handguns with no permit

Concealed Carry

Louisiana lawmakers took another step Tuesday toward allowing adults to carry hidden handguns without permits or training.

Members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee voted 4-1 to advance Republican Oil City state Rep. Danny McCormick’s House Bill 131, though they did amend the measure to raise the age from 18 to 21.

Committee Chairman Gary Smith, a Democrat from Norco, began the bill’s hearing by saying, “Let’s get the Wild, Wild West going.” Smith voted in favor of the legislation.

“Constitutional carry will restore Second Amendment rights in Louisiana,” McCormick said, though Smith noted the Second Amendment never mentions the right to carry a concealed gun.

Supporters of McCormick’s legislation refer to it as “constitutional carry” because they believe the Second Amendment already grants that right.

“It puts law-abiding citizens on equal footing with criminals,” said Kelby Seanor of the National Rifle Association. “It removes the burden to exercise a constitutional right.”

But opponents like those testifying from Moms Demand Action and the Louisiana Chiefs of Police said concealed carry without the training and permits required now make the streets more dangerous for citizens and police.

Fabian Blache with the Louisiana Chiefs of Police called the bill “ill-conceived,” and said it “would pose a danger for the community and police officers.”

Louisiana is already an “open carry” state, which means people can carry visible firearms without a permit or training.

Twenty-seven states already permit a form of concealed carry, including all of Louisiana’s neighbors.

“We should trust people with their rights,” McCormick has said.

It will be the fourth time McCormick has carried the measure, which cleared the House easily last year before it stalled in the Senate in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults.

McCormick said the bill is particularly important to him because he wants his four granddaughters ages 10, 2 and twin 6-year-olds to be able to protect themselves as adults.

The following is a screenshot of a Facebook video post with Republican Oil City Rep. Danny McCormick and his granddaughter, 6, who used the AR-15 assault rifle shown in the video to kill her first deer. The screenshot is used with McCormick's permission.

McCormick posted a video of himself and one of his 6-year-old granddaughters on his Facebook page featuring the AR-15 she used to kill her first deer in November.

“She used an AR-15, which my anti-gun people like to call assault weapons, but as you can see (she) uses it to hunt with,” McCormick said in the video. “We’re so proud of her.”

Lawmakers passed a concealed carry bill in 2021 that was nearly identical to McCormick’s legislation, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the measure.

Edwards generally has been a reliable vote for gun rights expansion bills, but he said he believes the current law requiring in-person training and a permit “strikes the right balance.”

More: Louisiana House votes to expand gun rights, allow concealed carry without permits, training

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.

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