LOUISIANA (KADN) - Right now, Louisiana is one of 31 states that require a permit in order to conceal carry a firearm but a house bill could soon change that.
House Bill 596 would allow Louisiana citizens 21 and older to conceal carry a handgun without a permit. Supporters of this bill, including its author Bryan Fontenot believe requiring a permit infringes upon citizens second amendment rights.
"We should never have restrictions on our constitutional freedoms. We see across America now that 20 states, soon to be 21 states across this country, are allowing citizens to exercise their right without any requirements in front of those rights," Fontenot said.
A 2012 amendment to the Louisiana constitution removed language about concealed carrying of a gun. Now, a group of Louisiana lawmakers is working to change that with a bill that would do away with concealed carry permits.
Political Science professor Dr. Pearson Cross of UL-Lafayette says it means opponents of the bill must prove why current laws should remain in effect.
"The Louisiana constitution after the 2012 changes make it very hard to limit any guns at all in Louisiana because they say any limitations on guns must pass what’s called ‘strict scrutiny,'" Cross said.
Fontenot and other supporters of the bill believe requiring a permit to conceal carry is a limitation being put on a person’s right to carry a firearm.
"When you purchase a firearm now in the state of Louisiana and you go to a federal firearms licensed dealer, you have a background check. So I believe mandating an honest citizen to prove that they’re honest is just a burden," Cross said.
Some opponents of the bill argue that it could result in a higher number of accidental shootings from a lack of firearm safety. Cross says freedom often comes at a price. "There’s a price for freedom, so this may be a tradeoff that you’re willing to protect a constitutional right with more shootings, but that’s something for the legislature to decide," he said.
Fontenot says there is already evidence suggesting that citizens are still willing to receive proper training regardless of permit laws.
"In the 20 states where constitutional carry was passed, that the individuals who sought training, went up in a large amount. So we know that individuals that want to legally possess a firearm will go out and seek that training," said Cross.
House Bill 596 cleared the house last week with a 73-28 vote and a veto proof majority. It will make its way to the senate committee sometime next week.
Fontenot’s bill, if passed, would also provide a free one hour training through Louisiana State Police for new gun owners.