Bill allowing permitless concealed carry in Louisiana heads to the governor’s desk for signature

BATON ROUGE, La. — A bill that would allow Louisiana residents 18 and older to carry a concealed handgun without a permit received final approval from lawmakers on Wednesday.

After years of Republican Party-led efforts to address unlicensed concealed carry, the bill is on the verge of becoming law, with Governor Jeff Landry signaling his intention to sign the legislation. Louisiana would become the 28th state to allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, according to the American Concealed Carry Association. However, it would be only one of a few states where the law would apply to people over the age of 18.

The proposed law would allow eligible people to carry guns concealed in their clothing without having to pay for a government permit, be fingerprinted or undergo firearms training – all of which are currently required.

Lawmakers also greenlit a bill that would provide a level of immunity from civil liability for someone who has a concealed carry permit and uses their firearm to shoot someone in self-defense.

Under the unlicensed concealed carry law, those who legally own a gun would still not be allowed to carry it in certain areas, including schools, churches, police stations, courthouses and the Capitol.

Supporters of the legislation, which was put forward during a special legislative session Landry called to address violent crime in the state, routinely describe the measure as a “constitutional carry bill” — arguing that current licensing requirements are unconstitutional.

However, during this session, proponents of unlicensed concealed carry also placed particular emphasis on the need and right of citizens to protect themselves from criminals who ignore laws, saying that “evil is everywhere” and “the police alone cannot can protect.” This session, lawmakers during their brief session are considering a slew of “tough on crime” policies — ranging from expanding execution methods on death row, charging 17-year-olds as adults and eliminating the possibility of parole for most inmates in the future. .

“People are being raped, murdered, carjacked and assaulted,” said Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson. “A vote for this bill today gives the citizens of Louisiana the right to defend themselves.”

Deep South Democrats, some of whom own guns and have gone through the process of obtaining concealed carry permits, say that while they support the Second Amendment, they are concerned about a lack of training that would be needed for those who want to carry a gun . Moreover, by the age of 18 they were in favor of the bill.

Opponents of the bill pointed to Louisiana’s high rate of gun violence, which they said the bill could worsen. The state had the second-highest number of gun-related deaths in the country in 2021, with 1,314, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure includes suicides and homicides.

Additionally, some police departments and the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police have opposed the bill, saying that eliminating the process “could increase the likelihood that firearms will end up in the possession of those who pose a danger to themselves.”

Law enforcement officials are also concerned that the legislation could increase the number of dangerous situations they face.

Louisiana previously came close to passing a law on concealed carry without a permit. In 2021, the Republican Party-dominated legislature passed a bill, which was vetoed by then-Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. At the start of this month’s special session, Governor Landry told lawmakers, “Now you have a governor who will sign it.”

If signed by Landry, the bill would go into effect on July 4.