Louisiana lawmakers shot down a proposal that would’ve prohibited gun restrictions by local governments on Friday morning, defeating the NRA-backed bill by Rep. Blake Miguez that drew fire from some municipal leaders.
A separate measure to expand Louisiana’s “stand your ground” legal protections to those using deadly force in churches or synagogues was pulled by its sponsor, GOP Rep. Beryl Amedee, of Houma, in the face of opposition from state senators.
Gun-carrying worshippers would’ve been granted wide latitude by Louisiana law to open fire if they felt threatened under Amedee’s proposal, House Bill 235.
Amedee argued that expanding the legal right to kill in places of worship was necessary because of recent shootings at churches and synagogues elsewhere in the country.
But critics contended the state’s existing self-defense provisions covered anyone using deadly force to stop an attack and expressed concern that Amedee’s bill might allow fatal force to be used even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat of harm.
Sen. Gary Smith, a Norco Democrat who chairs the committee, told Amedee the proposal — which easily passed the House 68-37 — still needed work. Amedee said she’d revise the proposal and bring it back in a future legislative session.
Miguez said his bill, which would’ve nixed a provision in state law that lets municipalities set their own gun rules for local government buildings and some businesses, would avoid potential problems for gun-carrying out-of-towners unfamiliar with local ordinances.
Local gun regulations could “unknowingly turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal,” Miguez, R-Erath, argued earlier this month. A slew of gun-rights groups supported Miguez’s bill.
Opponents, though, said local leaders deserved the authority to craft restrictions to address specific and sometimes unique circumstances in their towns or cities.
Miguez argued that gun owners should only face a single statewide set of rules on carrying firearms.
Democratic Reps. Royce Duplessis of New Orleans and Ted James of Baton Rouge both put forward amendments earlier in the process to allow their home cities to continue setting local restrictions. Neither was adopted.
The committee voted down Miguez’s bill, 3-2, killing it. House lawmakers passed it 68-30 earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.