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Louisiana’s Dem gov vetoes conceal carry law, transgender sports ban bill, setting up likely override

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has vetoed a pair of bills that are likely going to add fuel to calls for a veto-override session in the coming weeks by the GOP-controlled state legislature.

The Democratic governor first vetoed legislation that would have expanded the state’s concealed carry law to allow persons to do so without first obtaining training or a permit, which is generally referred to as “constitutional carry.”

The legislation, S.B. 118, was sponsored by Sen. Jay Morris (R-Monroe) and allows anyone who is at least 21 years of age to carry a gun without training or a permit. The legislation was overwhelmingly supported in the legislature, but Edwards, “the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, said he believes current law ‘strikes the right balance,'” The Daily Advertiser reported.

“Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place,” Edwards noted in a statement released by his office. “It is not too much to ask that a person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon in public be required to attend basic marksmanship and safety training so they understand the regulations associated with such an action.”

Legislatures in Texas and Mississippi have recently passed conceal carry measures that mirror Morris’ legislation, and their GOP governors have signed them into law. Other states, including Missouri, have similar ‘constitutional carry’ laws, so-named by supporters because they believe the Second Amendment makes clear that any attempt to require licensure or state permission violates the “infringement” clause.

“I certainly can’t say it’s a surprise; the governor has been clear all along,” Morris told the USA Today Network on Friday after Bel Edwards vetoed his bill. “But I’m still disappointed. This bill is for law-abiding and freedom-loving citizens.

“The people of Louisiana want it and hopefully we will join our neighbors, like Texas and Mississippi, and pass constitutional carry with or without the governor’s signature,” he added.

The National Rifle Association also criticized Edwards’ veto, noting on Twitter that “constitutional carry is about individuals’ right to protect themselves & loved ones against all threats.” The NRA also accused Edwards of giving in “to the other side’s fear monger tactics” and “the anti-gun lobby.”

Under Morris’ legislation, permits and firearms training courses would still be available so Louisianans carrying concealed and traveling outside the state would be in compliance with other states that still have the licensure requirement.

“We shouldn’t need the government’s permission to defend ourselves,” Chris Patron of Firearm Professionals of Louisiana testified during a committee hearing on the measure, the local paper reported.

Opponents of the measure including the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police argued that allowing concealed carry without training and licensure will increase shootings and violence, an argument made in other states that has not materialized.

“Think about Bourbon Street … with 21-year-olds all packing underneath their clothes,” Fabian Blache, the executive director of the police chiefs association, said during bill debate. “If anybody can (conceal carry) they’re going to be popping off in a heartbeat. Those kids who’ll be able to put one under their clothing … I think it’s going to create more shootings.”

To support his veto, Edwards cited a survey from a Democrat-leaning group, A Stronger Louisiana, which found that 80 percent of state residents want to keep the law as-is.

But Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, of Gonzales, said he supports a veto-override session after Edwards vetoed the gun legislation and an earlier bill that would have banned biological males from competing in girls’ and women’s sports.

Gov. Edwards called the transgender sports ban legislation discriminatory.

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” he said in a separate statement last week. “Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue” in the state.

If it happens, the veto override session would take place July 20-24, the paper reported.

Jon Dougherty

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