BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Legislature shot down HB37 by Rep. Danny McCormick, which would have allowed people over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
In a surprising move, Sen. Eddie Lambert, a Gonzalez republican, tacked on an amendment stripping the bill of the permitless carry component.
His amendment altered the bill so it would allow for schools to appoint teachers and staff to take conceal carry training in order to aid their school safety officer in the case of any danger.
Even before Wednesday’s session, certain law enforcement agencies were outspoken in their disapproval of HB37, saying it could create a more dangerous environment for officers.
Others pointed to last week’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school as an example of the danger in allowing certain individuals to carry concealed firearms.
A bill similar to HB37 that passed in 2021 was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards, and during Wednesday’s session, McCormick referred to the veto, saying that without a mandated permit it would be easier for “law abiding citizens” to conceal carry without having to pay for training and the permit.
But Sen.Lambert said, “Look, I voted for your bill last year and I voted to override the governor’s veto but now we’re in a situation where we have children with safety issues. How do we address that this legislative session? I think that’s the decision we have to make. Whose rights are we going to put first?”
Sen.Lambert’s amendment regarding school protection officers was adapted in a vote of 8-2.
On the other side of the issue were the bill’s advocates who said that the current cost of the permit posed an unnecessary challenge to low income individuals who wanted to carry a concealed firearm.
The Liaison for ‘Faith in Action’ spoke against this, stating that both the cost barrier and mandated concealed carry training were necessary.
She addressed the committee with the following words, “We don’t want to encourage anything that might do away with that (training to carry a concealed weapon)… right now we have to decide if human life is more important than guns. So, we’re asking you to vote ‘no’ on HB37.”
Stephanie Atkinson also testified against the bill, and mentioned that many who are in favor of HB37 point to their constitutional right to bear arms.
Atkinson said, “There are other rights in the constitution to consider. One is freedom of movement. One is the right to drive to Texas. But should I do it at 200 mph?”
Atkinson then referred to the role that access to guns appeared to play in recent mass shootings at grocery stores and schools, saying, “Our people and our children should be able to live with the freedom to go to the grocery or mall.”
Others testified against HB37, saying that parents involved in child custody spats might bring concealed weapons onto campuses, or that teachers carrying weapons could get into shoot-outs with armed students.
HB37 now heads to the full senate in its amended form.