BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana Senate gave quick final passage Tuesday to a bill that would allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit, a measure expected to provoke a veto from Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The Democratic governor’s opposition didn’t slow passage of the measure by Republican Sen. Jay Morris of Monroe. With no debate, the Senate voted 27-9 for House changes to the bill, a move that sent the proposal to Edwards’ desk.
The measure would allow anyone 21 years or older in Louisiana to carry a concealed handgun without needing a permit, unless they are barred under another law from having a firearm. Gun owners wanting concealed carry would no longer have to take nine hours of training on gun safety, get a background check or pay a fee to the Louisiana State Police.
Lawmakers passed the legislation with bipartisan, veto-proof majorities, but it’s unclear if all the lawmakers would agree to override Edwards’ decision if he jettisons the measure as expected.
Supporters called the measure a protection of gun owners’ 2nd Amendment rights and individual liberties. Opponents said removal of the permitting requirements would damage public safety and could lead to more unnecessary shootings and deaths.
Morris said he doesn’t believe allowing unpermitted concealed carry will increase violence.
“If I thought it was going to lead to wholesale lawlessness, I wouldn’t bring this bill. It’s for law-abiding citizens,” he said during an earlier debate on the bill.
Edwards has defended the current permitting process as appropriate.
“That’s the right balance to strike. And I feel very strongly about that. I also feel very strongly that a considerable majority of the people in Louisiana support the system we currently have,” Edwards said when asked about the proposal in April.
The House added language to the bill to create a one-hour online concealed handgun education course that would be available for free for people who want to voluntarily take it.
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