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Gov. Edwards expected to veto constitutional carry bill

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Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards is looking closely at a bill that would allow most people to be able to carry their firearms concealed without taking a training course but the bill’s chances of being signed into law are looking slim-to-none.

“My position on this has not changed,” said Edwards during a recent interview. “A law enforcement officer doesn’t want to discover someone with whom they’re engaging has a firearm for the first time while they are actually searching them and that leads a lot of problems.”

As a self-declared advocate for the Second Amendment, Edwards’s position on legal gun ownership has been firm. But SB 118, which would do away with requiring training, doesn’t appear to be sitting well with him. And with the likelihood of a veto of the bill coming soon, Sen. Jay Morris (R-West Monroe), says the fight will continue until the goal is achieved.

“I’m sure it will; if not by me, then someone else,” said Morris. “Yes, it will keep being brought up every year until it’s passed, I’m sure.”

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It would only do away with the requirement to pay for a training course, something that costs a lot of money, which some say is a fiscal barrier to low-income citizens. But it wouldn’t do away with the permitting process.

“So, if you still want to get a concealed carry permit in order to get, for example, reciprocity with another state, you can still continue to get your permit and pay your fees and a lot of people will continue to do that,” added Morris.

But opponents of the bill, like Rep. Larry Selders (D-Baton Rouge), say they’re worried this kind of legislation would cause a spike in gun violence.

“I think you should be licensed; I think you should be trained,” said Selders. “That’s my only concern is the training. I think it could possibly make more folks on the street have guns and not be properly trained and so, I think it would make it kind of dangerous and scary at the same time.”

But states like Arizona, which have a population size almost identical to Louisiana, have had constitutional carry since 2010. And according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, the number of deaths by handguns in Arizona hasn’t spiked since the law was implemented. Dan Zelenka, President of the Louisiana Shooting Association, says the same thing could be said for all other states with similar laws.

“We have a track record in 20 other states that shows it has not been a problem,” said Zelenka.

If the governor does veto the bill, it would take a two-thirds majority of the legislature to override it. But that hasn’t happened in Louisiana since the mid-90s.

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