BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One issue likely to face heated debate during the Louisiana legislative session is gun control. Several bills are on the table, including one amending the state constitution to allow individuals to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
Under state law, individuals can open carry a handgun without a permit. The same is not true for concealed carry.
"I don't believe that an individual should have the obligation and have to jump through all the hurdles to exercise a right to have a firearm concealed when they can literally carry openly without those requirements," said Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, the author of HB4.
Ivey wants to change the constitution to remove the permit requirement.
"Laws that restrict the rights of possession of a firearm only do so for the law-abiding, they never impact the rules for the criminals," he said. "Criminals break laws, it's what they do."
Currently, individuals have to attend classes in order to get a permit. Ivey said those classes cause an undue burden, especially on those struggling financially.
"Your poor individuals who are every bit law-abiding citizens but may not have the financial means to take off of work or pay for the class," Ivey said.
He said that if everyone had a gun, it may dissuade people from committing crimes.
Not everyone is on board with the bill, including the former head of the Louisiana State Police, Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia. He said that such a bill could create a hostile environment in the state.
"The Ivey bill is one of the most ridiculous bills to come through the Louisiana legislature in the past 20 years," Landry said. "In the law enforcement world, there's certain criteria as to when you can use your gun and there has to be risk of life and danger and it has to be measured by training, but people's threat levels differs from individuals based on a lot of different factors."
He supports a bill that would impose a 10-day wait period on the purchase of a gun. The bill is similar to rules already in place in other states, including
California and Illinois.
The legislation, also up for vote this session, was proposed by Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans.
"It's not like you're going to be able to buy a gun, it's just only to check out your mental capacity," Bagneris said.
Ivey strongly disagrees.
"Criminals break the law. I don't think they're going to go over the counter to legally purchase a firearm and then commit murder," Ivey said.
Ivey's amendment does include some exemptions. Individuals prohibited from owning a firearm either in the United States or just in Louisiana would not apply.
Both bills will appear in conference committee in coming weeks.