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A 59-to-36 vote in the the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday advanced a proposed change in the state's gun laws.
The bill would allow people with a conceal carry permit to bring guns onto school and university campuses statewide. HB 620 is authored by Rep., R-Erath.
Miguez said the bill is focused on protecting people’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He said it is not about putting guns in every classroom and therefore excludes teachers, school administrators and students. Miguez said the bill would allow visitors to schools and universities with a conceal carry permit to legally carry their weapon within schools’ gun-free zones.
But many parents and grandparents in New Orleans who were asked about the bill Thursday reject the idea as an unnecessary danger.
“I think we have more rights to demand that we have life rather than death. I see no need to have weapons anywhere near a school, in any fashion,” said Joe McMurray.
Gavin Chachere is a firearms instructor at The Shooting Club in Harahan. He said the permitting process requires training, a test and background check.
“You can’t be a felon. You can’t have convictions for domestic violence or any kind of adjudication for mental illness or history of mental illness like that and still, it’s ultimately up to the state,” Chachere said.
According to Louisiana State Police, 204,625 conceal carry permits have been issued to residents since 1996. During the same time period, the department reported that it denied 5,524 permits, suspended 2,522 permits, and revoked 1,250 permits statewide.
The permitting procedures of state police and the bill’s inclusion of a school’s choice to exclude certain venues or functions, such as a sports stadium, from the conceal carry option, are not enough for some school administrators.
John Nicklow, president of the University of New Orleans said in a statement to WDSU that “Any bill that would allow people to bring firearms onto a college campus is very troubling. As institutions of higher education, we must prioritize the safety and welfare of our students and employees above all else.”
The Orleans Parish Public School Board also sent the following statement about current school safety training:
"As educators, our focus is helping our students learn and grow, but our number one priority is to provide a safe environment. To keep our students safe we must be prepared, well-trained and well-coordinated with our partners in law enforcement. That is why we have strengthened our partnership with NOPD and have held trainings across the city, including a citywide active-shooter simulation.”
HB 620 will be considered in Senate committees as early as next week.