The state Senate gave final passage last week to a proposal to let state residents carry a concealed firearm without a permit or training.
Senate Bill 118 by Sen. Jay Morris, a West Monroe Republican, now heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who generally favors gun rights but is expected to veto the bill.
Speaking to The Ouachita Citizen, Morris said he remained hopeful Edwards might sign it.
If the governor vetoes legislation, the Legislature has the option to override the veto with a two-thirds vote from the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Of the possibility of a veto override, Morris said, “I think it's possible.”
“I suspect that everybody who voted for the bill, will not vote to override the governor,” he said. “I'm hopeful the possibility of an override will convince the governor not to veto it.”
SB 118 would apply to adults who are at least age 21 and have not been convicted of a felony or violent crime. Morris' bill retains the prohibition against carrying a concealed gun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Concealed carriers still would be required to disclose they have a weapon and submit to a search when asked by law enforcement, which would have the right to disarm the carriers.
Supporters of the change argue law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to carry concealed weapons without the government’s permission unless there is a compelling reason to stop them from doing so. Opponents argue requiring training and a permit to carry a concealed firearm is an appropriate safeguard for the public and for law enforcement that falls under the Second Amendment’s call for a “well regulated Militia.”
On June 1, senators voted 27-9 to concur with the House amendments, which included a requirement for state police to offer a voluntary 60-minute online concealed handgun education course.
House Bill 596, which has the same goal, has passed the House and a Senate committee advanced it Tuesday.
Ouachita Citizen news editor Zach Parker contributed to this report.