Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bill to allow armed off-duty cops in bars passes committee

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 6:00 PM

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House Bill 10 from state Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, would allow off-duty law enforcement to carry firearms inside bars and restaurants that serve booze.

A similar bill co-authored by Burns, House Bill 72 from state Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie, proposes permitting off-duty and retired law enforcement to carry firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. It also would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry their firearms in restaurants with booze.

Today, that bill passed 9-4 in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. It heads to the House floor for a full vote.

State Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, a former head of the Louisiana State Police, prodded Lopinto as to why the legislation is necessary (asking, "You take your gun with you (to bars and restaurants)?"). Lopinto, himself a former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Deputy, reminded the committee that permitholders already can have their permit revoked if their BAC is above .05 percent.

"If I go out and have drinks I wont have my gun with me," Lopinto said. "If something happens to me, and it's called into question the alcohol in me..."

"But you’re the exception," Landry said. "You know the consequences of irrational, under-the-influence behavior. You’re not the rule. ... We have irresponsible people (who believe) alcohol and a gun make them a bigger person."

Lopinto said those people already are acting outside of the law — in which firearms are banned in alcohol beverage outlets, which in this case are bars and restaurants with a bar. Lopinto argued that carriers shouldn't be punished for being at a restaurant that serves booze. "Take the alcohol out of it," he said. "It's a restaurant."

State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, also criticized the bill. "Louisiana puts nothing before guns," she said. "We’ll go at whatever costs we need to make sure we can do everything and anything with our guns."

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