On May 13, the House Criminal Justice committee sent four firearms rights bills to the full House for consideration. Since that time this newspaper and other local news outlets have branded these bills as “extreme” and “unneeded.” Nothing could be further from the truth. More than 60 supporters of these bills showed up to the committee meeting and only one or two in opposition. Three of the four bills passed committee with bipartisan support. The only bill that didn’t was HB140 which seeks to reform the state’s preemption law to make clear that regulation of firearms is preempted by state law and that local laws cannot be more restrictive than state law. This is necessary to avoid the creation of a patchwork of local laws that could place an otherwise law-abiding firearm owner in criminal legal jeopardy by merely crossing a parish line of entering an incorporated town or city.
The state mandates 9 hours of training when obtaining a concealed handgun permit, a significant portion of which is spent on the state law as to where a firearm may be carried. There are 367 local municipal entities in Louisiana. Without state preemption, there could conceivably be 367 different sets of laws concerning the possession and ownership of firearms in addition to state law. That is why uniformity is imperative.
In its May 13 article on the subject, the Advocate quoted Karen White, of the Louisiana Municipal Association, who testified that HB 140 would “obliterate” ordinances that limit carrying firearms into playgrounds, water parks, public parks, public buildings and commercial establishments. That is exactly why HB140 is necessary. Ordinances passed by local governments to limit the carrying of firearms into playgrounds, water parks, and public parks violate the existing state preemption statute and are illegal. Commercial establishments are private property whose owners can limit the possession of firearms thereon and certain establishments such as bars have their own state prohibitions in place. Public buildings are addressed under the state concealed-carry statute.
Opponents of HB140 have engaged in fear-mongering in reaction to the committee’s passage of the bill. Calling it “extreme” is insupportable since it merely tightens up existing state law and brings it in line with most other states. In fact, this identical bill was introduced last year as HB281 and passed the full House with greater than a 2-to-1 majority. It is time to support the rights of law-abiding gun owners and provide them with a uniform set of state laws to follow.
president, Louisiana Shooting Association