A closer look at the bills signed in to law in Louisiana

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

SB 135 and HB 717 (Part of the Governor’s 2013 Legislative Package)— authored by Senator Neil Riser and Representative Henry Burns—requires increased reporting standards to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. This legislation will help keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while maintaining confidentiality of individuals’ mental health records.

 Increased reporting standards will include individuals who are ineligible to purchase firearms based on their involuntary commitment to an inpatient mental facility, found not guilty by reason of insanity, found not competent to stand trial or convicted of a violent crime. This legislation also establishes a mechanism that allows an individual whose mental illness diagnosis has been reversed to regain their right to possess a firearm through a petition to the court.

 HB 6—authored by Representative John Schroeder—will improve school safety and help protect kids by allowing off-duty law enforcement officers to carry their firearms on school property, at school sponsored functions and in firearm-free zones.

 While current law already allows on-duty officers to carry their weapons, HB 6 removes the requirement that the law enforcement officer be in the performance of his official duties in order for the exemption to apply. The bill also expands the exemption to include a federal law enforcement officer or a Louisiana commissioned state or local POST Certified law enforcement officer who is authorized to carry a firearm.

 HB 8—authored by Representative Jeff Thompson—will protect the privacy of law-abiding gun owners by adding penalties to the unlawful release of information provided on concealed handgun permits.

 Current law provides that any information contained in an application for a concealed handgun permit or any information provided in connection with the application submitted to DPSC is confidential and not subject to a public records request. Current law also provides that DPSC shall not release any list of persons who applied for or received a permit for a concealed handgun.

 Under HB 8, employees of DPSC who unlawfully disclose information from concealed handgun permit applications shall be fined not more than $500, imprisoned for not more than six months, or both (misdemeanor). In addition, any other person who unlawfully discloses this information shall be fined $10,000 and may be imprisoned for not more than six months, or both (misdemeanor).

The bill does create exemptions to criminal liability if a court orders the release of the information, if the concealed handgun permit holder or applicant is charged with a felony offense involving the use of a handgun, if the permit holder or applicant consents to the release of the information, or if the information has been made public by the permit holder or applicant.

HB 98—authored by Representative Jeff Thompson—strengthens the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens by authorizing a sheriff to enter into a reciprocity agreement with another sheriff from a contiguous parish that allows both sheriffs to issue concealed handgun permits valid in both participating parishes.

 The bill also includes penalties for the unlawful dissemination of the confidential information contained in the permit application, specifies criteria for reciprocity and defines permit qualifications and the application process.

 SB 178—authored by Senator Neil Riser—will help more law-abiding gun owners exercise their right to vote by providing that voter registration application forms may be made available to purchasers of firearms from firearms retailers located throughout Louisiana.

The bill defines "firearm retailer" as any retailer who possesses a Type 01 Federal Firearms License and employs 25 or more full-time employees. Under SB 178, firearm retailers who make voter registration applications available may register with the Secretary of State to receive voter registration information and procedures.

HB 265 (signed into law May 30th)—authored by Representative Barry Ivey—will further cement Louisiana as the Sportsman’s Paradise and protect longstanding tradition by allowing for lifetime concealed handgun permits for law-abiding citizens.

The bill provides that the term of the permit shall be for the life of the permit holder and that permit applicants shall pre-pay present law fees for a total of 20 years at the time the application is made. If the applicant is 65 years of age or older, the present law fee shall be pre-paid for a total of 10 years. Under HB 265, lifetime permits may be revoked for the same reasons present law concealed handgun permits can be rescinded.

 In addition, HB 265 provides that a lifetime concealed handgun permit shall be suspended if the holder of that permit becomes a resident of another state, and it allows for the reactivation of the permit upon a criminal background check and return to Louisiana residency. Lifetime concealed handgun permit holders must also provide proof of educational training every five years.