Louisiana Legislatures Push to Expand Gun Rights Following Texas Elementary Shooting

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As the national debate ramps up in the wake of yet another school shooting, the Louisiana Legislature is pushing to further expand gun rights.

On Tuesday, House Bill 37 by Rep. Danny McCormick (R-Oil City) cleared a Senate committee just hours before the massacre of 19 children and a teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. HB 37 would allow any non-felon over age 21 to concealed carry a weapon without requiring a permit or the training necessary to obtain a permit. On Wednesday, McCormick defended his legislation, saying he wanted to give “the good guy” easier access to a gun.

“The only guy who can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy or gal with a gun. My bill is designed to make it easier for the good guy to have a gun,” McCormick said.

However, investigators have now said the school’s armed school district security officer – who is supposed to be the first line of defense in this situation – never fired his weapon at 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, in spite of initial reports that Ramos and the officer exchanged gunfire. According to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, the armed officer “engaged” Ramos but “gunfire was not exchanged” and “the subject was able to make it into the school.”

It’s unclear why the officer didn’t open fire.

Many – including Gov. John Bel Edwards, who vetoed a similar bill last year – feel that laws like HB 37 would only increase gun violence, rather than prevent it.

“Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place,” Edwards said following last year’s veto. “It is not too much to ask that a person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon in public be required to attend basic marksmanship and safety training so they understand the regulations associated with such an action.”

“HB 37 fails to build on a culture of life,” said Tom Costanza, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops said. “Instead, it makes it easier for persons to act and to endanger our communities and workplaces.”

Louisiana is already an “open carry” state that allows gun owners to visibly carry their firearms without a permit. According to Sen. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge), the state needs more restrictions, not fewer.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Barrow said. “I’m going to see if I can pass a resolution to form a commission to explore responsible measures that might prevent these shootings. What I do know is that what we have in place with gun laws is irresponsible.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell agrees.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families in our neighboring State of Texas that were impacted by the senseless and avoidable gun violence that has become synonymous with our nation,” said Cantrell. “In the next week, the Louisiana Legislature will have the opportunity to stand up, reject the politics of fear and vote against gun legislation that will make our communities less safe and secure. Our gun laws need to emphasize safety, registration, and licensing. Unfortunately, HB37 does the diametrical opposite by allowing individuals to carry concealed firearms in public.

The City of New Orleans stands in strong opposition to this permit-less concealed carry bill, and we implore our State Senators to vote against this dangerous legislation when it reaches the Senate floor. As the eyes of the nation are watching the actions in Baton Rouge, the time has come to act in the best interest of the people of our great state.”

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