I’m glad that Rep. Danny McCormick is feeling good about the prospects for his constitutional carry bill next session, but given the shenanigans that we’ve seen in the past on the issue, I’m not holding my breath or taking anything for granted. McCormick has authored a permitless carry bill in the last four legislative sessions and actually had it passed with a veto-proof majority in 2021, only to see several lawmakers who’d voted in favor of the law during the regular session either switch their vote or have pressing business that kept them away from the capitol during the veto override session.
Next year, however, the Republican supermajority won’t have to contend with a governor who’s hostile to the idea. Attorney General Jeff Landry won the state’s “jungle primary” outright last month by getting more than 50 percent of the vote, and Republicans gained more seats in the state legislature as well. McCormick says that should seal the deal for constitutional carry in 2024 and make Louisiana the 28th state to adopt the measure.
“This unprecedented Republican dominance, with 73 seats in the House and 28 in the Senate, along with conservative Gov. Jeff Landry at the helm, illustrates the strength of our fight for liberty and yearning for real conservative change,” McCormick wrote in a fund-raising email to supporters.
“This session, I plan to sponsor and pass a clean Constitutional Carry bill that respects the Second Amendment rights of all Louisiana citizens,” the email continued. “No more compromising with the Baton Rouge establishment. No more watered-down versions of good legislation.”
He will almost certainly have the support of the projected new House Speaker Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice, who voted for previous versions of the bill.
That’s good news as well. The governor’s veto, and the failure of the Republican majority to override his decision, undoubtedly hurt permitless carry’s prospects over the past two sessions, but McCormick had sparred with leadership at times as well. Last year McCormick’s bill wasn’t taken up by a key Senate committee until the waning days of the legislative session, and McCormick ended up pulling the bill when it became clear that it would be subject to a rule requiring two-thirds support for any legislation passed in the last 72 hours of the session.
But with Edwards soon to be booted from the governor’s mansion and replaced with a friend to the Second Amendment in Jeff Landry, and leadership (in the House, anyway) more receptive to the idea, McCormick has genuine reason to be optimistic that 2024 will be the year that permitless carry finally makes it across the finish line.
Now, I do expect gun control groups to put up a fight, as well as to nationalize it as much as they can. We’ve already seen anti-gunners conflate the gun death rate with the violent crime rate in Louisiana, and they’ll be sure to accuse Republican lawmakers of putting their fealty to the gun lobby ahead of public safety when McCormick’s bill comes up for its first hearing. I just don’t think they’re going to have much luck with that argument. Permitless carry is already the law in more than half of the states, and even in places like Maine or Vermont where Democrats now have legislative trifectas no one is seriously talking about repealing those laws and returning to a “shall issue” only system. The growth of permitless carry has been a grassroots success story over the past fifteen years or so, and next year it will hopefully finally and firmly planted in the fertile soil of the Sportman’s Paradise.