The Louisiana Legislature heard several gun bills last week, including a controversial measure to allow lawmakers to carry their firearms to work. Senate Bill 651 from state Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, already won approval from the state Senate, and it now heads to the House after approval from the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee on May 6. Allain said it was a "personal protection measure," expanding the laws allowing judges and district attorneys to carry weapons to courthouses and state buildings.
State Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, defended his three bills expanding gun access in Louisiana. All were killed in committee. One of his more controversial proposals, House Bill 494, would allow Louisiana residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, creating an "open" concealed carry law. While the state does allow for open carry, HB 519 aimed to amend the state's constitution to extend open carry to concealed weapons. (Barry demonstrated "open carry" by miming a gun on his hip while his jacket was off, and "concealed carry" with his jacket closed.) "If it's cold outside, you have to have a concealed carry permit," he said. Ivey also admitted he didn't consult with law enforcement agencies to draft the bill. The Louisiana Sheriff's Association opposed it.
"The Second Amendment gives us this right already," he argued. "Our constitutional rights have been infringed, and this is a measure to correct that."
The committee also halted a bill that aimed to legalize permitless concealed-carry, rather than amending the state's constitution and putting it on the ballot. Ivey's final bill, House Bill 519, would allow lifetime concealed-carry permit holders to own short-barrel firearms without federal registration.
"Short barrel never killed anybody worse than a long barrel," Ivey argued; he was met with a "no" vote. "Y'all are wrong again, but that's OK," he told the committee.
Gun owners' rights in Louisiana were greatly expanded in 2012, thanks to a constitutional amendment that read, "Any restriction of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny."