BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Members of law enforcement agencies statewide met to send a message to their legislators asking them not to override Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto to the concealed carry bill that lessens restrictions.
Officers spanning big cities and small towns said the bill would put their officers in more danger when they’re out on the streets. Senator Jay Morris of West Monroe, who sponsored the bill, said it can help people better protect themselves.
The bill would allow people over 21 to conceal carry a firearm without a permit or training. Those in favor of the bill believe the mandatory nine hours of training and the fees that come with it hinder their rights to bear arms.
“It boils down to asking the government for permission and paying them fees to exercise your constitutional right,” Sen. Morris said.
The Chiefs of Police Association have been vocally against the bill from the start. Other law enforcement groups like the Sheriff’s Association have taken a neutral stance. Sen. Morris said his local sheriff is against the veto and there is some conflict within agencies on the bill. In attendance at the press conference, law enforcement officers stood together to share their concerns for officer safety.
“It creates a huge, huge safety concern when it comes to the fact that this by itself could increase violence as we know it,” Baton Rouge Police Deputy Chief Myron Daniels said.
Officers said the training helps people be more responsible with firearms and without it, it could lead to more mistakes.
“Can you imagine going into a shooting situation and you walk in a room and everybody is holding a gun?,” East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III said. “You’re not going to know who is a bad guy and who is a good guy and it just puts those officers in a terrible position to make split-second decisions.”
New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said police are already placed under a microscope due to recent events nationwide. It has impacted how officers interact with the public and he said if everyone could have a hidden weapon it would put officers on high alert for every call.
Sen. Morris believes that is already the case.
“Now they don’t know if somebody is carrying or not. Criminals will carry regardless of the law,” Sen. Morris said. “This is just a law for law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves from those that would break the law.”
Louisiana is already an open carry state. The officers emphasized not being able to see the weapon adds to the danger.
“It puts people on notice that a firearm is present and it allows them to be better prepared,” Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said.
With violent crime on the rise nationally, officers said this is not the time for this law. Conversely, those in support said they want to be prepared to defend themselves.
Lawmakers have until July 15 to submit their ballots in support of the veto session. With enough support, it will take place on July 20. There they will need a two-thirds majority in the House and the Senate to override the veto.