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Students taking a concealed carry permit course with instructor Isaiah Stewart fire their weapons at The Shooter's Club in Harahan, La. Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Law enforcement officials from across Louisiana say allowing the concealed carry of handguns without training and permitting is dangerous, both to the people carrying and to those, including police, they might encounter.

"We’re not opposed to concealed carry. We’re opposed to concealed carry without education and without training," Fabian Blache Jr., executive director of the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, recently told lawmakers. They are considering bills to end the permit requirement and the mandate for nine hours of training.

The vast majority of Louisianans also think easing restrictions is a bad idea. A recent poll conducted for A Stronger Louisiana, a group with ties to Gov. John Bel Edwards, found that 80% of those who responded think there “should be a requirement to obtain a permit and attend safety classes in order to carry a concealed handgun,” as there is now. Support for the status quo was widespread across political and regional lines.

Even some lawmakers pushing for change acknowledge the risk in what they’re proposing. State Rep. Bryan Fontenot, R-Thibodaux, admitted during a hearing that he personally sees value in mandatory training.

Bill allowing people 21 and older to conceal carry without permit breezes through House

And yet the Legislature isn’t listening — or is, but only to the noisy few who view sensible restrictions as an affront to the Second Amendment, not to the many who understand the proper and perfectly constitutional need for precautions. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled out reasonable and defensible restrictions on firearms.

Two bills to eliminate such precautions for those already allowed to carry firearms under state and federal law have passed the House and Senate by wide margins, so some form of the proposal is likely headed to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. Edwards has vowed to use his veto pen, which we’re glad to hear.

Asked last month about the current law, Edwards, a Democrat, has this to say: “All of that it seems to me is proper. That’s the right balance to strike. And I feel very strongly about that. I also feel very strongly that a considerable majority of the people in Louisiana support the system we currently have.”

Those aren’t the words of a knee-jerk liberal fighting a conservative Legislature. Edwards is a gun owner who has made support for the Second Amendment central to his political identity, and also a member of a family steeped in law enforcement. He knows of what he speaks, and doesn’t tend to go out on a limb on issues surrounding firearms.

Legislation ending permit requirement for concealed carry advances in Louisiana Legislature

We think he’s right that current restrictions strike the right balance between gun rights and public safety.

The real question lies in what happens after Edwards’ promised veto. The public should let legislators know that those of us who value public safety are watching them.

Fontenot’s bill, House Bill 596, passed in the House 72-28, and Senate Bill 118 by Jay Morris, R-West Monroe, passed in the Senate 27-11. So both got initial support from enough lawmakers to override a gubernatorial veto, although perhaps some lawmakers voted “yes” for political reasons knowing that a veto awaits. We hope they’ll listen to law enforcement professionals and reconsider if faced with an opportunity to override.

The current restrictions are reasonable. Any change that would make police officers’ jobs more dangerous, and put more Louisianans’ lives in peril, simply isn’t.

Bill allowing people 21 and older to conceal carry without permit breezes through House