Gov. Edwards opposes ending permit requirements for concealed carry; gun rights group disagrees

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards told scores of law enforcement officers gathered in St. John Parish for a ribbon-cutting on a new training center that he remains opposed to a bill making its way through the legislature that would end Louisiana’s permit requirement for concealed carry.

“Having been through the training for concealed weapons I think it’s essential if we’re going to maximize safety in the public that in order to carry a concealed weapon, individuals need to have training. They need to know what the law is, they need to know about gun safety, they need to have a background check, they need to have marksmanship training and they need to know they have legal obligations to inform a law enforcement officer that they have a concealed weapon on them when they are interacting,” said Edwards.

St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre agrees.

“I’m going to stand with him, next to him, behind him or in front of him because I can’t have everybody carrying a gun in St. John Parish anytime, anyway, 18 or older, whatever it is. The concealed weapon permit process works,” said Tregre.

New Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman also opposes the bill.

“I think it’s clear that we have way too many guns out here now and way too little training and the background checks, the permits that are needed, all of those things are crucial to having a safe community. No one wants to take away the right to bear arms but with bearing arms comes responsibility,” said Gusman.

“I think we have the balance right today in Louisiana in order to carry concealed weapon a member of the public needs to have a permit and the permit requires that they receive training, education of what the law is, but safety training and also marksmanship training, undergo a background check,” said Edwards.

Still, the bill made it out of the full Senate.

Dan Zelenka is President of the Louisiana Shooting Association which helped to write the bill.

“Not all sheriffs agree with them in fact the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association is neutral on this bill,” he said.

He thinks Louisiana should have a different law. “I think it’s a bill whose time has come, I think it’s a law whose time has come especially with the great support that Louisiana has for the right to keep and bear arms,” said Zelenka. “In Louisiana, it’s a constitutional right to open- carry without a permit. All this bill really does is allow you to put a jacket on.”

He held up an NRA-generated map showing 20 states have laws allowing so-called “permitless carry” and he says there’s no evidence such laws make society less safe. “There’s a proven track record out there and then there’s been no more problems with the permitless carry than there has been with permitted-carry and frankly permitted carry has virtually no problem,” Zelenka stated.

FOX 8 asked the governor if he will veto the bill if it wins approval of both chambers of the legislature.

“I don’t support the legislation and that sort of speaks for itself. I almost never say that I’m going to veto a bill before it gets to my desk and have an opportunity to read it because certainly they can be amended and do things we can’t envision today,” Edwards said.

Zelenka was asked whether he thought there is an appetite in the legislature for an override if the bill is vetoed.

’'I think the answer in the Senate is certainly, this legislation passed 27 to 11 in the Senate and that is well over the threshold. The House is a little closer. I expect the legislation to pass the House, I expect it to be pretty close to that two-thirds number but I’m not positive that it’ll go over that two-thirds,” he said.

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