Louisiana Senate Approves Constitutional Carry Bill

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Louisiana lawmakers are wasting no time in their latest attempt to enshrine Constitutional Carry into law. A special session on crime and public safety kicked off on Monday, and just four days into the session the state Senate overwhelmingly approved Sen. Blake Miguez's legislation that would allow lawful gun owners to carry without the need for a government-issued permission slip. 


The 28-10 vote fell on mostly party lines on Thursday afternoon, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. Given that Louisiana would be the 28th state to adopt the measure, the arguments heard during floor debate are already familiar to Second Amendment advocates. 

“The Second Amendment is our God-given right to bear arms and defend our families,” said GOP state Sen. Blake Miguez, who wrote the concealed carry bills approved in his chamber. “No more begging the government to get permission to protect what's ours.”

Miguez and other Republicans argued that criminals ignore gun requirements and that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit to protect themselves. Democrats say the measure could lead to more gun violence and jeopardize public safety. 


“This is by far one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation that’s about to pass out of this building,” Democratic Sen. Royce Duplessis said Thursday.

Duplessis cited a letter from the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police, which opposes the bill. The letter says permits are a “clear mechanism for tracking and regulating concealed firearms” and removing the process could “increase the likelihood of firearms ending up in the possession of those who pose a danger to themselves.”

Duplessiss's duplicitous argument ignores the fact that dozens of states have already adopted Constitutional Carry laws, and none of them have seen an explosion in violent crime or general anarchy. Six of Ohio's eight largest cities saw declines in homicides and violent crimes in the first year that Constitutional Carry was in effect, while cities like Atlanta and Miami saw double-digit declines in homicides last year. 


It's true that New Orleans and several other Louisiana cities have violent crime rates that are above the national average, but if anything, that's just evidence that requiring lawful gun owners to obtain a carry license has no impact on violent offenders, who could care less whether or not they're legally carrying when they commit an armed robbery, carjacking, or drive-by shooting. Miguez is right that criminals are ignoring the existing law, and I imagine they'll continue to do so when Constitutional Carry is in place as well. 

That's why Constitutional Carry isn't the only bill under consideration in the special session. Lawmakers are also looking to increase the penalties for certain crimes, establishing that 17-year-olds who are charged with a felony are automatically tried as adults, and eliminating parole for many future offenders. 

GOP state Rep. Debbie Villio, who authored the bill, said that under Louisiana’s current system, inmates are “released after serving a fraction” of their sentence — leaving victims and the public confused and “sorely disappointed.”

“For those of you who believe parole should be for a person 18 years or older who commits a heinous crime, there’s likely very little I can say that will make a difference. We simply disagree,” Villio said during a hearing Wednesday in a legislative committee, which advanced the bill. The proposal now heads to the House floor for debate.


Of course, Democrats object to Villio's bill too. They'd rather get tough on lawful gun owners than violent criminals, but the voters of Louisiana have chosen a very different path; one that respects the right to keep and bear arms while ensuring that the perpetrators of violent crimes face stiff consequences for their actions. That's a smart and constitutionally sound approach to public safety, and Louisianans will be better off once these bills, including Constitutional Carry, are signed into law by Gov. Jeff Landry. 

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