NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some state lawmakers want less restrictive gun laws by making it legal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or license.
"If you permit something that our Constitution allows, what next are we going to have to permit?," Bossier Parish State Rep. Dodie Horton said.
Horton, along with East Baton Rouge State Rep. Barry Ivey, sponsored HB 4.
The lawmakers want to change wording in the state statute to say "the right to keep and bear arms includes the right to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or license."
The bill would allow non-felon Louisiana residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Horton said her constituents asked her to file the bill over what they see as the possibility of more gun restrictions after high-profile shootings across the country.
"I don't know how it would do any harm," Horton said. "The criminal element is going to be there. They're going to obtain the weapons illegally or legally."
Louisiana already allows non-felons to openly carry a weapon in certain public places. Orleans Parish State Rep. Helena Moreno believes allowing people to conceal carry without a permit or license would create safety problems for law enforcement and citizens.
"It's the fact that you can carry a concealed weapon. You just have to get a permit. It's not incredibly difficult to get a permit. You just go through the training and the proficiency test and you get one," Moreno said. "The legislature has shown in the past that we believe that is important."
To carry a concealed weapon, someone must first go through a course and learn gun safety, state laws and how to protect yourself from making the wrong decision when possessing a gun.
"They also teach you about certain laws on the books, stand your ground, things like that, of when it is proper for you to shoot and when it is not," Moreno said. "With this particular legislation, it would all go away. You wouldn't be required to take any type of classes like that."
"We're not trying to change the law per se. We're not changing the statute. All we're saying is you don't need a permit to conceal carry because, again, we can open carry anytime we choose," Horton said.
Horton feels the permitting process is an unnecessary obstacle for law-abiding citizens and believes citizens should know the law ahead of time.
"If they don't have a permit, they have to educate themselves on our statute and our laws," Horton said. "It's going to be interesting. I look forward to the debate."
If HB 4 passes through the legislature, the measure would be placed on a ballot. Louisiana voters would then decide whether carrying a concealed weapon without a permit would become state law because it would be a constitutional amendment.