BATON ROUGE — A House committee has rejected a proposal to let Louisiana gun owners carry concealed firearms without a permit.
Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, met unanimous disapproval Wednesday with no discussion from the House criminal justice panel. Ivey also backed the idea in 2014, but failed to gain support.
Ivey’s primary proposal Wednesday pushed for a state constitutional amendment to legalize “constitutional carry.” He asked the panel to “practically” consider the issue and said the amendment would align Louisiana with 10 other states with similar laws. All the law would do, he said, would give law-abiding citizens the same rights they have under state open carry law.
Ivey added the bill would help people unable to afford permits, as well as allow citizens to conceal weapons when open carrying is “not a prudent thing to do.” Supporters of the measure asked the panel to advance the proposal for a full chamber debate.
Permit supporters said the bill would remove public safeguards and allow dangerous people access to guns. Ivey countered that his bills protected against the claims.
Law enforcement organizations, including the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and Louisiana District Attorneys Association, said they opposed Ivey’s proposal but did not have representatives speak during the hearing.
The panel also stalled a second bill that Ivey said had the same intent to remove concealed carry from the state’s illegal carrying of weapons statute. Rep. Chris Hazel, R-Pineville, questioned whether the proposal would “gut” the statute and complicate the criminal law.
Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, added to Hazel’s concerns, saying he had some issues with the “broadness of language” in the bill.
Another bill dealing with permit-less concealed carry may be considered again later in the session. Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, has filed a similar bill, but he told a Senate committee Tuesday he wanted to discuss some of the wording with his constituents before moving his bill for consideration.
Ivey proposed five additional measures Wednesday that he said contributed to his balanced approach to curbing significant crime rates while protecting constitutional rights. The panel voted down bills that sought to expand access to enhanced concealed handgun permits and increase penalties for certain crimes committed while possessing a gun.
Ivey says he plans to approach the panel with reworked bills to define a “concealed” weapon and criminalize the failure of anyone approached by police to disclose the possession of a concealed weapon.
Ultimately, the committee advanced one of Ivey’s measures. The House will hold a full debate on a proposal to increase the penalties for people possessing firearms while committing a violent crime.