BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana law enforcement officials held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss why they oppose an override of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of legislation allowing people 21 and older in Louisiana to carry a concealed handgun without needing a permit.
In a statement announcing the news conference, the Louisiana Law Enforcement Coalition called SB 118 eliminating permits for concealed carry weapons “a dangerous bill.”
During the news conference, several sheriffs and other law enforcement officials from around the state expressed concerns about the ways allowing the bill to become law will further endanger law enforcement as well as the general public.
Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webster called SB 118 “a solution without a problem,” explaining how the current permitting process focuses on safe handling and proper storage of firearms, as well as liability laws and ensures proper training.
Without that training, law enforcement leaders believe more people will be unnecessarily exposed to a higher risk of violent crimes and more accidental deaths and injuries. They also point out that when they encounter an open carry situation, they at least know that a firearm is present and can take appropriate action to protect themselves and others if necessary.
The coalition also notes that a recent survey found that 80 percent of the people of Louisiana support requiring a permit for concealed carry weapons.
SB 118 is one of 28 bills rejected by Gov. Edwards from the regular session, who also struck out a handful of legislative pet projects from budget bills. The Louisiana Constitution calls for a veto session to be automatically scheduled when a governor jettisons legislation.
Louisiana lawmakers are in the process of deciding whether to hold what would be an historic veto override session. A majority vote of either the House or Senate can scrap the gathering — a decision that often is an afterthought for lawmakers who have canceled every veto session since the modern constitution was enacted in 1974.
But this time around, the veto of the constitutional carry bill along with a measure banning transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams of their identified gender have been drawing intense interest from the majority-Republican House and Senate.
Ballots determining whether a veto session will be held went out earlier this week and are due July 15. If neither chamber sees a majority of its members turn in the paperwork to cancel the gathering, the session will begin July 20 and could run through July 24.