BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A bill that looks to remove the training and permit requirements for conceal carry of firearms is now one step closer to becoming law.
House Bill 596 has been getting a lot of positive reaction from gun rights activists. Those against the bill said they fear taking away the mandatory training will lead to less responsible gun owners.
The bill by Representative Bryan Fontenot was brought because he said the mandatory training and fines for a background check hinder some people from their right to bear arms. Right now, someone has to take nine hours of training, have a background check, and pay fees to get a permit. Rep. Fontenot is a former law enforcement officer and said he is not against training, but retains it should not be required. Conceal carry courses will still be offered if the bill passes.
“I understand the significance of carrying a firearm, the dangers of carrying a firearm. You heard me testify on the house floor the importance of having some type of training,” Rep. Fontenot said. “I am a firearms trainee, I can teach the conceal carry permit class.”
The bill would have the state police create a one-hour training video people can choose to watch online, but some say it is not enough.
“This is a very very dangerous bill. People are going to be walking down the street with guns with a suit on and nobody will know if they have a gun,” Senator Greogry Tarver said. “Police come up automatically on a property, once he reaches for his billfold he’s going to get killed.”
Law enforcement agencies like the Chiefs of Police are opposed to the bill. Louisiana is already an open carry state which means someone can carry a firearm on their hip and visible at age 18. Those against it also cited other states with a similar law where the crime rates went up. Rep. Fontenot said that is not what he found in his research.
“If I had any inclination, any belief after studying and researching that crime would rise I would not sit at this table,” Rep. Fontenot said. “Crime is on the rise…and the right to protect yourself from those violent criminals should be the number one thing that we address. We shouldn’t create laws that burden the honest person with a background check.”
Senator J. Cameron Henry brought up possible amendments to get the bill in a place where Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will be in support of it. The bill had a majority support on the house floor with a vote of 73 to 28. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.