By Bonnie Culverhouse
Louisiana House Bill 596, which would allow those 21 and older to legally carry a concealed firearm without a permit, has moved to the state Senate after passing the House by a vote of 72-28. It is currently in a Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s a bill that may seem controversial to some, but local law enforcement has a different point of view.
“I can see both sides,” said Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker. “Folks have the right to bear arms, but they need to be trained.”
Parker said the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association will remain neutral on the subject.
“If a criminal wants to carry a gun, he will,” Parker said. “But this may create more opportunity for law enforcement to be involved in a more serious situation with the public.”
Parker believes training and background checks are very important.
Ryan Barnette, who has been in law enforcement for more than a dozen years, is the owner/instructor of Nine and One Tactical. He offers firearm instruction and is certified to teach Concealed Carry courses.
“I think this (bill) is a good idea,” Barnette said. “The permitting process in and of itself has really been an infringement on people’s Constitutional right. I believe our right to self-preservation is a natural right. We were born with that, given to us by our Creator.”
Barnette believes the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the state Constitution, are designed to protect that right.
“Until we do something to somebody else that causes us to forfeit that right, I don’t believe the government should step in and infringe on it,” he said. “It seems like the permitting process was a way to generate revenue at the expense of the people’s Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.”
Barnette is not concerned that passage into law would affect his company.
“If this passes, and no one comes for training, that is a good enough reason for me to close the business,” he said. “But I believe training is really important, and the responsible people will want it.”
District 10 State Rep. Wayne McMahen voted in favor of the bill, however, Gov. John Bel Edwards has said if it passes both branches of the Legislature, he will still veto it in favor of training for permits.
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