Louisiana House votes to expand gun rights, allow concealed carry without permits, training
Louisiana is on the cusp of expanding gun rights after the House overwhelming passed a bill Tuesday that would allow adults 18 and older to carry handguns without permits or training as is currently required.
Republican Oil City state Rep. Danny McCormick's House Bill 131 would "restore the Second Amendment in Louisiana."
"For too long Louisiana has been infringing on that God-given right," said McCormick, who said his 6-year-old granddaughter is "quite proficient" with an AR-15 assault rifle.
"Nothing is more unjust that to insist citizens pay for a right they already have," he said.
Supporters of McCormick's legislation refer to it as "constitutional carry" because they believe the Second Amendment already grants that right.
Louisiana is known as an "open carry" state, which means people can carry visible firearms without a permit or training.
Twenty-seven states already permit a form of concealed carry, including all of Louisiana's neighbors.
"We should trust people with their rights," McCormick has said.
It will be the fourth time McCormick has carried the measure, which cleared the House easily last year before it stalled in the Senate in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults.
Opponents, like those representing the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, have warned allowing concealed carry without permits elevates the potential of illegal gun violence or accidental shootings.
Fabian Blache with the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police called the bill "ill conceived."
Democratic New Orleans Rep. Mandie Landry, whose city has recently been the murder capital of America, became emotional when testifying against the bill Tuesday.
"The idea of more 18-year-olds running around New Orleans (with concealed guns) is terrifying," she said.
"When everybody's packing a gun you're going to have more violence," said Democratic Alexandria Rep. Ed Larvadain. "We're turning our state into the Wild, Wild West."
But lawmakers like Republican Houma Rep. Beryl Amedee said she feels "safer with guns around."
McCormick said the bill is particularly important to him because he wants his four granddaughters ages 10, 2 and twin 6-year-olds to be able to protect themselves as adults.
McCormick posted a video of himself and one of his 6-year-old granddaughters on his Facebook page featuring the AR-15 she used to kill her first deer in November.
"She used an AR-15, which my anti-gun people like to call assault weapons, but as you can see (she) uses it to hunt with," McCormick said in the video. "We're so proud of her."
More:Louisiana lawmaker whose granddaughter wields AR-15 advances bill to expand gun rights
Lawmakers passed a concealed carry bill in 2021 that was nearly identical to McCormick's legislation, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the measure.
Edwards has generally been a reliable vote for gun rights expansion bills, but he said he believes the current law requiring in-person training and a permit "strikes the right balance."
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.