Louisiana House approves Constitutional Carry bill

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

I haven’t included Louisiana in my list of states likely to adopt Constitutional Carry this year for one simple reason: a Constitutional Carry bill that was approved with a veto-proof majority last year never took effect after Gov. John Bel Edwards rejected the measure and several Republicans ended up either not voting in the veto override session or switching their votes. That’s make me pretty skeptical that any bill introduced this year would fare any better, but to their credit, lawmakers in Baton Rouge are giving it another go, and on Wednesday the state House gave its stamp of approval for the measure.

Louisiana moved closer toward allowing adults to carry a concealed gun without requiring a permit or training in a bill that cleared the state House of Representatives late Wednesday.

The House voted 64-27 to advance House Bill 37 by Republican Oil City Rep. Danny McCormick to the Senate, where it also seems destined for eventual easy passage.

… “I do not believe free people should have to have permission to defend themselves,” said Republican Rosepine Rep. Chuck Owen as he testified in favor of McCormick’s bill Wednesday.

Lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have made the age to carry a concealed gun 18 instead of 21 and added an amendment from House GOP Caucus Chair Blake Miguez  to require State Police to offer free online training, though it won’t be mandatory.

While that was a pretty lopsided vote, HB 37 did not get as many votes as the Constitutional Carry bill approved by the House last year, which was originally passed by a sweeping 73-28 margin. I have no doubt that the legislation will also win the support of the state Senate, but the big question is whether or not the votes are there to override the veto that is certain to come from the state’s Democratic governor.
The answer to that important question likely lies in the state Senate, which is the next stop for HB 37. Last year the state Senate originally approved Constitutional Carry on a 27-9 vote, but during the veto override session several state senators, both Republican and Democrat, changed their vote (and in one case, simply didn’t show up for the veto override session), allowing Edwards’ veto to be sustained.

Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Jay Morris (R-West Monroe), received overwhelming support in the Senate with a vote of 23-15 — but less than the required two-thirds for an override.

The legislation would have provided an exception to the criminal statute of illegal carrying of weapons and amended Louisiana’s concealed carry permit law by repealing the requirement that residents pass a nine-hour course with live-fire training and apply for the permit in order to carry a concealed gun.

… During its initial passage in June, the House voted for it 73-28 and the Senate voted for it 27-9 — above the required two-thirds. Republicans and a handful of Democrats in both chambers supported the legislation, but some of those Senators changed their positions on Tuesday. Those included Sen. Gary Smith (D-Norco), Sen. Patrick Connick (R-Marrero), Sen. Louie Bernard (R-Natchitoches), Sen. Franklin Foil (R-Baton Rouge) and Sen. Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport).

Every one of those flip-floppers is still in the state Senate, and it remains to be seen how any of them will vote on Constitutional Carry this time around, not to mention whether or not they’ll actually stand by that vote during any potential veto override session.

I’d love to see Louisiana adopt Constitutional Carry this year, but I have to admit I’m not particularly optimistic about its chances. I hope it doesn’t take a Republican winning the state’s gubernatorial election next year for it to happen, but unless several Republicans (or, less likely, the two Democrats who originally voted for Constitutional Carry) stiffen their spines and support the measure in the weeks ahead, we’re likely to see a repeat of last year’s disappointing failure to override the governor’s veto.