A state Senate panel Tuesday morning sidelined legislation that opponents said would have allowed concealed weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol.

The bill’s sponsor state Rep. Henry Burns promised that he would try to resurrect it before the 2013 Legislature ends.

Another Senate panel advanced gun-related bills that would:

  • Impose criminal penalties for release of information related to concealed carry permit holders
  • Ban enforcement of federal laws or regulations restricting ownership or possession of semiautomatic firearms.
  • Require reporting to a national gun purchase data clearinghouse the names of those with mental health problems that resulted in involuntarily commitments or tied to criminal convictions.

The Senate Judiciary B Committee, without objection, involuntarily deferred action on House Bill 48, which would allow weapons in restaurants that have alcohol-serving permits.

The action came after representatives of the Louisiana Hotel-Motel Association opposed the measure.

“We just didn’t want to see an expansion of the authority of people with weapons in our establishments,” said William Langkoff, executive director of the hotel-motel group.

Burns said he will try to find other legislation to which the concealed weapons change can be attached. The Haughton Republican said he just wants to legal authority for off-duty law enforcement officers to carry weapons.

Burns said the same committee didn’t like his “guns in churches bill” during a prior legislation session. That bill resurfaced via an amendment to other legislation and ultimately became law.

Also Tuesday morning, another Senate committee — Judiciary C — approved House Bill 5 that would prohibit the enforcement of federal restrictions regarding the ownership or possession of semiautomatic firearms. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, cleared the committee on a 4-1 vote with no debate.

The same committee also passed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for the public release of the names of concealed carry permit holders.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson, sponsor of House Bill 8, said information related to concealed carry permits holders is already not a public record.. But there are no penalties to deter the release of information that could be used to the detriment of those who hold the permits, said Thompson, R-Bossier City.

He said that those who cannot buy weapons legally may see an opportunity to steal one. He said a victim of domestic abuse could get a concealed carry permit and release of that information, such as an address on the application, could put the individual in jeopardy.

Those who publicize the information “shall be fined $10,000 and may be imprisoned for not more than six months,” according to the bill.

Law enforcement violations of the ban on release would trigger a maximum $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Louisiana Press Association Executive Director Pam Mitchell said only Alabama has criminal penalties for release of concealed weapons permit information, a provision that has not been tested in court yet.

Carl Redman, The Advocate senior editor also representing The Louisiana Press Association, testified against the legislation. Redman said it is “ironic” that those who are protective of the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment “are here trying to limit my First Amendment rights.”

Redman said the legislation amounts to “prior restraint” of the worst kind.

“The way this country has gone, I’ll protect my Second Amendment people before I protect my First Amendment,” said state Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville.

The committee passed the legislation on a 5-1 vote.

The mental health reporting bill, House Bill 717 by Burns, is similar to one already passed by the Senate. The legislation is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s legislative package he proposed in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting in which 20 children and six adults died.

HB5, HB8 and HB717 now move to the Senate floor for debate.