Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has vetoed a no-permit concealed carry law for guns that he said could endanger the public, leaving the self-described “Sportsman’s Paradise” an outlier in the Deep South where such laws have recently passed in neighboring states.
Mr. Edwards’ veto of the bill, which would have allowed legal gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit, puts Louisiana in opposition to Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a similar bill two weeks ago. Five states have passed such legislation this year.
The Thursday night decision comes at a time where both sides in the national gun debate feel they are making progress. President Biden has vowed to “defeat” the National Rifle Association, and in New York, where the NRA began in 1871, the gun rights group is headed to trial against the state attorney general who has moved to shut it down.
Gun-rights groups, on the other hand, point to the growing number of states that have passed concealed carry laws and the number of states and counties that have designated themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” Because they think newer laws are a restriction on the Bill of Rights, supporters of the measure like the one Mr. Edwards vetoed call them “constitutional carry” laws.
Mr. Edwards, calling himself “a strong supporter and an enthusiastic outdoorsman and hunter,” pointed to the opposition from some law enforcement officials to the bill in justifying his veto.
“I simply cannot support carrying a concealed-carry firearm without proper education and safety training — and I believe a majority of Louisianians agree with me,” Mr. Edwards said in a statement. “Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place.”
The National Association for Gun Rights said Mr. Edwards’ reasoning is a smokescreen to justify what it considers a tax on gun ownership. Law-abiding gun owners already handle weapons responsibly, the NAGR said, and the group encourages all of them to train regularly.
“Everyone around Louisiana has passed this law this year or in recent years and they function fine. It’s not the OK Corral out there,” said Chris Stone, a spokesman for the NAGR, the nation’s second-largest gun-rights group. “This is rights-restoring legislation and we are disappointed the governor went against overwhelming majorities in his legislature.”
With Texas joining their ranks this month, 21 states have some version of a no-permit concealed-carry law. In addition, a growing number of jurisdictions in the U.S. have passed laws or motions making themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” A group favoring such status published a map this week that shows 61% of the nation’s counties have approved such laws.
The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear one of its first major Second Amendment cases in years, accepting a challenge to a New York law that also deals with restrictive rules on concealed weapons. Second Amendment supporters argue the law’s requirement that an applicant must demonstrate some “proper cause,” and a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community” is an overly broad restriction.
The NAGR urged Louisiana legislators to convene next month and override Mr. Edwards’ veto, but it was not clear Friday if that would happen. The prospect of a July session to consider some of Mr. Edwards’ vetoes has gained traction in recent days, but some lawmakers told The Washington Times there may not be enough votes to override the governor on the gun bill.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Jay Morris, told the USA Today Network Friday he expected a veto.
“I certainly can’t say it’s a surprise. The governor has been clear all along,” he said. “But I’m still disappointed. This bill is for law-abiding and freedom-loving citizens.”
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