Louisiana House wants to allow people to carry concealed guns without permits, training

Leslie Nessmith, center, of Edmond, Okla., attends a rally at the state Capitol to mark the start of a new law that allows most adults in Oklahoma to carry a firearm in public without a background check or training, Nov. 1, 2019, in Oklahoma City.
Leslie Nessmith, center, of Edmond, Okla., attends a rally at the state Capitol to mark the start of a new law that allows most adults in Oklahoma to carry a firearm in public without a background check or training, Nov. 1, 2019, in Oklahoma City.

Louisiana moved closer toward allowing adults to carry a concealed gun without requiring a permit or training in a bill that cleared the state House of Representatives late Wednesday.

The House voted 64-27 to advance House Bill 37 by Republican Oil City Rep. Danny McCormick to the Senate, where it also seems destined for eventual easy passage.

But the Legislature passed an almost identical bill last year with a super majority in both the House and Senate and was unable to overturn a veto from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Twenty-five states have enacted similar laws, which supporters describe as "constitutional carry" because they believe the U.S. Constitution already grants people the right to carry concealed guns.

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Louisiana is already what's known as an "open carry" state, which means people can carry visible firearms without a permit.

"I do not believe free people should have to have permission to defend themselves," said Republican Rosepine Rep. Chuck Owen as he testified in favor of McCormick's bill Wednesday.

Lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have made the age to carry a concealed gun 18 instead of 21 and added an amendment from House GOP Caucus Chair Blake Miguez to require State Police to offer free online training, though it won't be mandatory.

Louisiana currently requires someone to buy a permit and complete in-person training before carrying a concealed gun.

Opponents, like those representing the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, warned allowing concealed carry without permits elevates the potential of illegal gun violence or accidental shootings.

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Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Fabian Blache called it a "very dangerous bill" during committee debate, though he acknowledged not every law enforcement officer opposed it.

McCormick said concealing a gun in a purse or jacket "isn't going to cause chaos."

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Louisiana House approves 'constitutional carry' gun bill