Permit-less concealed carry bill continues advance

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

By Elizabeth WhiteLSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE – A House committee passed a bill Monday that would allow individuals 18 and over to carry a concealed handgun without a permit as long as they are not prohibited from owning a firearm under state or federal law.

The House Administration of Criminal Justice voted 10-3 to advance the bill despite opposition from New Orleans officials, who expressed concern about the safety of police officers and tourists visiting the city.

The Senate has already passed bill, sponsored by Sen. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, and it now goes to the House floor.

“We are merely offering law-abiding citizens safety to exercise their self-defense rights without a fee or other governmental barriers from a violent criminal who has no regard for the law,” Miguez

Political leaders and a police official from New Orleans voiced some of the main concerns.

“The City of New Orleans, as you all know, is different than other cities in the state,” said Helena Moreno, a former state representative and the current president of New Orleans City Council. “We are the only city that has millions of visitors coming into our city every single year.”

Moreno proposed creating gun-free districts in areas like the French Quarter and the entertainment district by the Superdome.

Rep. Alonzo Knox, D-New Orleans, offered an amendment that would have created the firearm-free districts but later withdrew the amendment.

New Orleans Police Deputy Superintendent Lawrence Dupree voiced concerns about officer safety.

“It puts law enforcement having to make a split-second decision, and always on every call for service in the back of their mind, ‘Is this person armed?’” Dupree said.

The committee also passed Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, which lowers the age in which a juvenile can be tried as an adult from 18 to 17.

“We know that older adults are recruiting 17-year-olds to do their bidding,” Cloud said. “We also know that in juvenile facilities 17-year-olds are recruiting the 14- and 12-year-olds to do their bidding. It’s perpetuating a cycle, and we have to stop it.”

Opponents argued that the bill should only apply to violent crimes, but proponents emphasized that prosecutors will have discretion when it comes to trying 17-year-olds who commit nonviolent offenses and that the law would also serve as a deterrent.

“The moment you pass this it will send a chilling effect to these 17-year-olds from New Orleans to West Baton Rouge throughout the rest of this state that you guys are now giving us the tools to fight back,” District Attorney Tony Clayton said.

The bill passed to the House floor by a vote of 10-4.