Proposed Louisiana house bills threaten citizen safety

Lily Milwit, Senior Staff Writer

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Last week, the Criminal Justice Committee of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted to defer three house bills that called for the loosening of restrictions on gun possession and carry laws in Louisiana. 

House Bills 4 and 6 outlined propositions that would eliminate the current requirement for a concealed carry permit. This means that any citizen not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm would be able to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and be exempt from prosecution for doing so.

Additionally, House Bill 315 proposed allowing any citizen eligible to possess a firearm to obtain an enhanced concealed carry permit, meaning they could carry loaded, concealed handguns in places where carrying firearms is otherwise prohibited, potentially including police stations, jails and courthouses if HB315 defines enhanced concealed carry regulations the same as Mississippi House Bill 506, a similarly-worded bill that recently passed. 

Together, these bills represent a dangerous precedent for Louisiana, a state that consistently ranks among the highest in the country for rates of gun violence and among the most relaxed with regard to gun laws. These bills dismantle the very basic standards that Louisiana already has in place and would allow citizens with past misdemeanors or histories of mental illness to carry concealed weapons in public without going through any training or licensing processes. 

Extensive research and studies have shown that increased gun ownership positively correlates to increased violence, including higher rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder. Polling numbers also show that 76 percent of gun owners and 69 percent of National Rifle Association members support permit requirements for concealed carrying of firearms. 83 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Independents also support these sorts of permit requirements.

The Criminal Justice Committee made the right decision in deferring the unnecessary and dangerous House Bills 4, 6 and 305. Given the contents of these bills and the danger they present to Louisiana residents, the committee should not reschedule a hearing for these bills, and should look instead to preserve the precautions currently in place that justifiably limit gun possession and use to ensure the safety of citizens. 

While citizens who wish to own firearms certainly have the right to do so, other citizens also have the right to be safe and protected in their state. The Louisiana government has a responsibility to promote not only the rights of residents exercising their second amendment rights, but also the rights of the rest of the population that is concerned about keeping themselves and their families safe.