Sheriff Urges Louisiana Lawmakers To Override Constitutional Carry Veto

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

As Louisiana lawmakers debate returning to the state capitol for a veto override session, sheriffs from across the state are sounding off on one of the top priorities for Republicans; a Constitutional Carry bill that was approved with a veto-proof majority but was killed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Several sheriffs have come out against the bill, but Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington isn’t one of them. Instead, he’s urging legislators to stand up for the Second Amendment rights of residents by overriding Edwards’ veto and making Louisiana the 22nd state to adopt permitless carry.

As the Constitutionally-elected Sheriff of Bossier Parish, my priority is to ensure the Constitutional rights of our citizens are upheld. My duty as Sheriff is to ensure their 2nd Amendment rights are protected, not guaranteeing they are “trained marksmen.”

Do I wish everyone was proficient in firearms handling? Absolutely! But the level of “training” with a firearm should not determine whether or not a law-abiding citizen has the right to carry a firearm and defend himself, his family, or other people in danger. Our Constitution already provides that right!

Ask yourself – If you are in the grocery store and a gunman goes around executing people at point-blank, do you really care if a law-abiding armed person who can help you has a permit or not?

Statistics simply do not bear out what some in the media and even some law enforcement leaders are saying – that there is blood in the streets and increased shootings by law-abiding citizens – is baseless and quite frankly not true.

We in law enforcement are trained to assume everyone could be armed until we know differently. Requiring a permit or firearms training will not affect the way we do business.

THIS IS IMPORTANT – CRIMINALS DO NOT GET PERMITS! The only person this permitting process hurts is the law-abiding person trying to protect himself and his family.

Kudos to Whittington for coming down on the side of the rights of residents. Unfortunately, several of his fellow sheriffs have done the opposite; not only vocally opposing Constitutional Carry but even doing a photo-op with the governor.

Although the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association has stayed neutral on the legislation and its veto, several sheriffs spoke in favor of the veto on Thursday, and the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police also opposed the bill and objects to an override of its veto.

In a statement announcing Thursday’s press conference, the Louisiana Law Enforcement Coalition called the bill eliminating permits for concealed carry weapons “a dangerous bill.”

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webster called SB 118 “a solution without a problem,” explaining how the current permitting process focuses on safe handling and proper storage of firearms, as well as liability laws and ensures proper training.

Louisiana already recognizes the right to open carry without a license, and the Constitutional Carry bill vetoed by Edwards would simply apply that same standard to those who choose to carry concealed instead.

Look, there are 21 other states that have already adopted permitless carry, and not one of them have gone back and repealed the law afterwards because it led to the Wild West or The Purge. There’s nothing preventing sheriffs like Craig Webster from offering gun safety and basic pistol courses to members of the public to help ensure that they have access to training and education, and in fact I’d encourage him to do so.

The question isn’t “do we want gun owners to be knowledgable and responsible with their firearms?” Of course we do. The real question is “do we want to turn people into criminals for carrying their legally-owned firearm without a government permission slip?” I’m glad to see Sheriff Julian Whittington’s answered “no,” and I hope that the Republicans in control of the Louisiana legislature forge ahead with their attempt to make Louisiana the 22nd Constitutional Carry state.