Church Carry Bill Signed Into Law In Louisiana

Changes are coming to Louisiana’s concealed carry laws with the signing of HB 334 by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday. The legislation, sponsored by former police officer Rep. Bryan Fontenot, tweaks the state law regarding concealed carry in churches and houses of worship, and passed the state legislature a few days ago with a veto-proof majority.

Currently in Louisana, concealed carry holders can only carry in a religious setting after the approval of the pastor, and after the congregation has been informed. Additionally, those concealed carry holders who carry in a church, mosque, or synagogue must obtain eight additional hours of training at the request of the “entity which has authority over the religious organization.” With the signing of HB 334, the additional training mandates will disappear, along with the requirement that congregants are informed of those who are carrying concealed.

Fontenot says those in charge of houses of worship can still choose to ban the carrying of concealed firearms on their property if they want, though at least one state representative disagrees with Fontenot’s assessment. Rep. Joe Marino argues that with the repeal of the current statute, pastors, rabbis, and other religious leaders no longer have the ability to set firearms policies for their buildings.

Two other pieces of pro-Second Amendment legislation are still on Gov. Edwards’ desk, and will soon become law as well unless the governor officially vetoes the measures.

House Bill 140 by Rep. Blake Miguez, would strengthen the state’s firearms preemption laws by limiting local governments to restricting the carrying of firearms only in those institutions listed in state statute like schools, courthouses, and airports. The measure would mean that dozens of local ordinances banning the carrying firearms in certain settings would be unenforceable.

House Bill 781, also sponsored by Rep. Miguez, takes aim at localities that seek to ban the sale of firearms and ammunition during states of emergency, and makes it explicitly clear that these local governments don’t have the authority to suspend the Second Amendment with the declaration of an emergency.

All three bills passed out of the state legislature with veto-proof majorities, but so far the only bill that Gov. Edwards has signed is HB 334, the church carry bill. Under Louisiana law, however, any bill passed by the legislature that is not vetoed by the governor automatically becomes law. It’s unclear at the moment if Edwards will sign HB 140 and HB 781, let them become law without his signature, or if he’ll veto the bills, setting up the prospect of a veto override fight in the legislature in the coming weeks.

I suspect the governor isn’t going to pick a fight he can’t win on the gun legislation and will at least allow the bills to become law, even if he doesn’t officially sign the two pieces of legislation. Still, if you’re a gun owner in Louisiana now would be a great time to contact the governor’s office and urge him to support both HB 140 and HB 781, as well as to thank Edwards for signing HB 334 into law.