State Capitol

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Ken Lund | Flickr via Creative Commons)

Constitutional carry bill dead

Veto override session ends with no veto reversals

By Zach Parker

An effort to override Gov. John Bel Edwards' veto of the “constitutional carry” bill allowing many adults to carry a concealed firearm without a permit failed by three votes earlier this week.

The state Legislature convened a veto override session on Tuesday after a majority of state lawmakers waived their opposition to holding such a session after the conclusion of the regular legislative session—the first such veto override session since the adoption of the State Constitution in 1974.

Shortly after convening, the Senate took up Sen. Jay Morris' Senate Bill 118, otherwise known as the constitutional carry or permitless carry bill. Morris' legislation would have allowed adults who are at least 21 and have not been convicted of a felony or violent crime to carry a concealed firearm among other restrictions.

If you're in your car, it is legal to have it open or concealed, right now,” said Morris, R-West Monroe. “The notion that traffic stops would be changed because of this law is hellacious. Look at Chicago, which has the strictest gun laws in the nation, but they have the worst gun violence in the nation. Those laws didn't help anyone there.”

Edwards vetoed Morris' legislation, deeming it unnecessary and potentially unsafe for residents.

Under the Constitution, a two-thirds vote was required to override Edwards' veto, meaning a veto override required 26 senators to vote in favor. The vote was 23-15.

State Sen. Gary Smith Jr., a self-described gun enthusiast, said he supported Edwards' veto because of the lack of training required by Morris' legislation.

I've seen way too many people, and maybe you've seen them as well, who pick up a gun and don't know how to load it, they don't know how to rack it, and don't know how to unload it,” said Smith, D-Norco. “They don't know how to shoot it. One of the most dangerous things you can have is a gun when you're in a bad situation. If you have a gun and you're not ready to use it, it will be used on you.”

Meanwhile, the Legislature adjourned the veto override session on Wednesday after Republicans in the House of Representatives failed to override Edwards' veto of Senate Bill 156, also known as the Fairness in Women's Sports Act. Under the act sponsored by Sen. Beth Mizell, biological males would be prohibited from participating in female athletics.

Edwards vetoed the bill, claiming it would threaten the state's tourism revenues, especially if the NCAA considered a Louisiana venue for one of its events.

On Monday, the Senate voted in favor of overriding Edwards' veto of Senate Bill 156. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, echoed Edwards' concern on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

There is a direct correlation between what happens today and our economic future,” Peterson said.

Mizell defended her legislation, arguing that women's sports deserved legal protection.

When the Legislature originally approved SB 156, lawmakers did so with “no prodding, no carrots, no sticks and not even any sugar.”

We also knew that, without protection, women's sports may not exist,” said Mizell. “If you have not heard the large majority of the voices in this state, by phone calls, by visits, there's no words I can give you. You can ignore my words, but I hope you don't ignore theirs.”

The vote to override Edwards' veto of SB 156 was 26-12, making it successful.

A similar two-thirds vote was required in the House for a veto override to be successful.

On Wednesday, when the House took up the matter, the vote was 68 yeas and 30 nays, falling short of the two-thirds threshold.

Shortly afterward, the House adjourned, ending the veto override session without reversing any of Edwards' vetoes.

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