By Jenna Bridges
LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE—A House committee on crime advanced a bill 8-1 that would allow permitless concealed carry for individuals 18 and older.
Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, brought what he said was a “constitutional carry” bill before the committee Tuesday. McCormick’s bill would amend present law that only allows concealed carry for 21 or older who undergo the proper training to receive a permit.
Rep. McCormick told the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice that his bill, House Bill 131, would mimic current rules that allows individuals 18 and over to openly carry a firearm. His bill would allow individuals to carry a concealed weapon at the same age.
“So basically, what you’re doing with this bill is that you’re trying to get every law-abiding citizen in the state of Louisiana the same ability that every criminal does,” Rep. Raymond E. Garofalo Jr. R-Chalmette, said. “Every criminal right now can carry a concealed weapon with no permit, no training, no nothing.”
Kelby Seanor, the National Rifle Association state director for Louisiana, noted that 27 other states have similar laws in place to allow for permitless carry, including every state that Louisiana’s border touches.
Courtney Weaver, a member of the community, testified in opposition to the bill. Weaver, who was shot 13 years ago in the face and arm at point-blank distance and had 14 reconstructive surgeries as a result, said that the bill will only embolden dangerous individuals to have more access to firearms.
“I think someone who is properly trained with a firearm respects firearms more,” Weaver said about her concerns with lifting the training requirements.
Rep. Joseph A. Marino III, I-Gretna, said he was concerned with allowing individuals who might have had no background with guns to carry a gun without understanding how to use it safely.
“Personally, I’ve never seen anyone open carry that was doing it carelessly,” Rep. McCormick said in response. “I trust the people with the rights, and I think the Second Amendment gives us those rights.”
McCormick said he agrees that people who own guns should have training. But he said he does not believe that the current government-mandated training is near what you would need to carry.
“The rights and responsibility belong to the individual,” McCormick said.
The committee also passed two bills pertaining to allowing current law surrounding individuals convicted of felonies possessing firearms.
One of them, House Bill 464, proposed by Rep. Bryan Fontenot, R-Thibodaux, would extend the mandatory sentence for a felon charged with the crime of possessing a firearm from five years to 10 years, and it would require that the sentence be served consecutively.
The other, House Bill 284, written by Rep. Marino, would allow felons convicted of a simple possession crime involving a controlled substance to possess and carry a firearm after their sentence. Present law states that individuals convicted of certain felonies, including possession of a controlled substance, cannot possess a gun for 10 years after their sentence and probation period are over.
“The law that we have right now lumps a whole lot of people together that should not be lumped together,” Marino said.