Permitless concealed carry bill advances in Louisiana Senate committee
A bill that would allow individuals who are at least 21 years old in Louisiana to conceal carry a gun without a license or training advanced out of a Senate committee Tuesday with a 4-1 vote.
The controversial bill was changed from its original form that passed the House last week, which would have allowed individuals as young as 18 years old to carry a gun without a permit.
The age restriction amendment that passed on Tuesday is similar to the majority of permitless carry laws in 27 other states, mostly in the South and Midwest.
The bill’s author, Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, is against raising the minimum age. He opposed an amendment last week in the House that narrowly failed to raise the age from 18 to 21.
McCormick and other supporters of the bill said permitless carry is a constitutional right under the Second Amendment, and he added that this bill would “restore” those rights.
“Unfortunately, for too long, Louisiana has been infringing on that God-given right,” McCormick said.
This bill comes at a time when gun violence has surged across the country and in Louisiana. Gun murders increased by 45% between 2019 and 2021, according to a Pew Research Center study. And Louisiana had the third highest gun murder rate in the nation.
Supporters rejected any claims the bill would lead to an increase in gun-related crime and said high crime rates increase the bill’s necessity because criminals will carry guns regardless of the law.
“This bill is for law-abiding people who want to protect themselves and their families,”said Kelby Seanor, state director of the National Rifle Association.
Opponents of the bill disagreed. They said permitless carry is not explicitly protected under the Constitution and said similar bills in other states have led to increases in gun-related crime.
They noted several studies, including one from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in September, show a correlation between less restrictive gun laws and higher rates of gun-related violence.
“We fear that it’s just one more way to escalate violent situations,” said Melissa Flournoy, board chair of 10,000 Women Louisiana, a progressive organization.
Crime is a top concern for Louisianans for the first time in 20 years, according to the first part of the 2023 Louisiana Survey. Louisiana has consistently ranked among the states with the highest violent crime rate in the nation.
Similar bills have repeatedly come up in the Legislature year after year. A 2022 version of the bill was halted after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is generally a supporter of gun rights and expansion, vetoed a similar bill in 2021.
“Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place,” Edwards said in a statement on the concealed carry bill in 2021.