Can Louisiana's GOP Override Governor's Veto Of Constitutional Carry?

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Theoretically, it might be possible. When permitless carry was approved by the Louisiana House and Senate, it did draw support from a few Democrats as well as the vast majority of Republicans. If the lawmakers stand firm in their support of the legislation, the votes are there to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recent veto of the bill. In order for that to happen, however, lawmakers would have to return to Baton Rouge for a special override session, and that might turn out to be the bigger challenge.

While common in other states, overriding a governor’s veto in Louisiana is rare. It’s only happened twice in the modern history of the state — and only when the lawmakers’ regular session was still underway. Legislators have never in the modern history of the state called themselves back into a veto override session after their regular session has adjourned.

“I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and an enthusiastic outdoorsman and hunter. But I simply cannot support carrying a concealed firearm without proper education and safety training — and I believe a majority of Louisianans agree with me,” Edwards said in a statement Friday. “Simply put, it is not too much to ask that a person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon in public be required to attend basic marksmanship and safety training so they understand the regulations associated with such an action.”

Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Jay Morris (R-West Monroe), would have amended Louisiana’s concealed carry permit law, which requires applicants to pass background checks and pass a nine-hour course that includes live-fire training in order to carry a concealed handgun in public spaces. Louisiana residents can already carry a gun openly in public — referred to as “open carry” — without any special permits as long as the firearm is in plain view.

I’m all in favor of anyone who owns a gun getting the training they need to feel comfortable and be proficient with that firearm, but let’s not pretend that a government mandate is the only or best way to make that happen. After all, there are nearly two dozen Constitutional Carry states, and in states like Arizona and Mississippi, which have had the law on the books for several years, there are still plenty of firearms instructors who are busy teaching classes that gun owners are choosing to take.

Besides, as noted above, permitless open carry is already legal in Louisiana. From a practical perspective, why should carrying a concealed firearm be a crime while openly carrying a gun without a license is fine and dandy?

Still, it remains an open question as to whether or not Republicans will try for a veto override.

Either the House or the Senate can block an override session. If the majority of either chamber votes not to return to Baton Rouge, it won’t be held. During former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s last term in office, the House opted to come back in for a veto override session more than once, but the Senate never agreed to do so — so one was never held.

Still, the dynamic between the governor and lawmakers is different than it has been in the past. Edwards is a Democrat and the Legislature is overwhelmingly made up of conservative Republicans. In Louisiana, the governor and lawmakers have rarely been on such different pages philosophically, even if they were members of different parties.

The veto is also the second one this week to draw the ire of Republican lawmakers. On Tuesday, Edwards vetoed another bill that would have prohibited transgender women and and girls from participating in women and girls’ sporting events — which kicked off the push for an override session.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-French Settlement, said earlier this week that he wanted a veto override session over the rejection of the transgender restriction — and the House may already have the votes to hold one. There’s less clarity about whether the Senate would support a session.

It sounds like Louisiana’s state senators need to hear some encouraging words from gun owners right now if a veto override session is going to happen. Let’s hope they’re making those contacts and that Louisiana’s Republicans decide to make a little history this year; not only by returning to their legislative posts for the first override session in recent history, but by rejecting Edwards’ veto and making Louisiana the 22nd Constitutional Carry state in the nation.