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Louisiana Update: Firearm Bills under Consideration by the State Legislature

Friday, April 19, 2013

On Wednesday, the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice had its first hearing of the 2013 legislative session.  Anti-gun and pro-gun bills were considered and reviewed, and the following is a summary of these bills and their outcomes in committee.  Please contact your state Representative and members of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice and urge them to oppose HB 366.  Urge your state Representative to support House Bills 5, 8, 45, 98, 277 and 717. 

Contact information for your state Representative can be found by clicking here.  House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice member contact information can be found by clicking here.

Anti-Gun Bills:

House Bill 4, introduced by state Representative Barbara Norton (D-3), was defeated by an involuntary deferral on a 7-6 vote.  This legislation would require all firearms to be locked in a container or equipped with a locking mechanism to render the firearm “inoperable.”  Requiring Louisianans to keep their firearms inoperable prohibits immediate use for self-defense and puts responsible gun owners at risk of danger.  This type of regulation was deemed invalid under the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).  Also, this type of law is unlikely to pass the strict scrutiny standard of review in Louisiana’s strengthened Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment.

House Bill 141, introduced by state Representative Austin Badon (D-100), was defeated by an involuntary deferral on a 7-6 vote.  HB 141 would require Louisianans to acquire and provide proof of firearms training before purchasing any firearm.  This legislation effectively imposes a tax on the exercise of a fundamental right and unnecessarily restricts Louisianans who cannot afford training courses but have a right and a need to lawfully possess and own a firearm.

House Bill 366 was postponed for future consideration.  Please contact members of the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice and your state Representative and urge them to oppose this anti-gun legislation.  This bill, introduced by state Representative Mickey Guillory (D-41), would create a crime of reckless discharge of a firearm within 1,000 feet of residential property in an unincorporated or rural area of a parish - in which the discharge does not foreseeably pose a threat to the safety of another human being.  This bill language is so broad that the term “residential property” (defined as “property which is wholly or partly used for or intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants”) could include an enormous state forest with a campsite.  Under HB 366, the new restricted zone would include the furthest reaches of the property from the place used for camping, plus an additional 1,000 feet.  As such, an individual could be miles and miles away from the described camp site, be unaware of its existence, and the “recklessness” could arise from the disregard of the fact that an individual might hit a billboard or some other “interest” that has no direct relation to someone’s safety – if it occurs within the new restricted zone.  State law already allows parishes to regulate the discharge of firearms and provides penalties for individuals recklessly discharging firearms.

Pro-Gun Bills:

House Bill 5, the Louisiana Preservation of Individual Gun Rights of Citizens Act, passed by a 9-6 vote.  Introduced by state Representative Jim Morris (R-1), this legislation would prohibit state enforcement of federal gun control laws enacted on or after January 1, 2013.

House Bill 8, introduced by state Representative Jeff Thompson (R-8), passed by an 8-5 vote.  This bill would strengthen the current concealed handgun permit confidentiality statute by adding misdemeanor and felony penalties for individuals that intentionally release or publish information on individuals that applied for or received concealed handgun permits.

House Bill 21, now House Bill 717, passed in the committee unanimously.  Introduced by state Representative Henry Burns (R-9), HB 717 would allow Louisiana law to meet the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) of 2007.  This legislation does not expand or create new categories of prohibited persons.

People who have been placed under certain types of mental health-related orders – by a court – are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms.  The NIAA established clear standards for states to use in crafting laws to give persons subject to these prohibitions a means of relief.  HB 717, under the guidelines established by the NIAA, would allow a court to grant relief from the federal prohibition upon a finding that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.  HB 717, for the first time in Louisiana history, provides a path for Louisianans, including military service members and veterans, to have their gun rights restored.

House Bill 45, the Louisiana Manufactured Firearms and Ammunition Act, passed by a 10-1 vote.  Introduced by state Representative Joseph Lopinto (R-80), this bill would exempt from federal firearm regulation all firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition manufactured and remaining within the borders of Louisiana.  It would also create a Louisiana-based “dealer’s license” and alternative background check system.

House Bill 98, introduced by state Representative Jeff Thompson (R-8), passed by an 11-2 vote.  This bill improves the current permits to carry concealed handguns offered by sheriffs – such permits are independent of the statewide permit to carry concealed handguns.  This legislation allows sheriffs to enter into reciprocity agreements with contiguous parishes, makes the criteria for obtaining a parish permit the same as a statewide permit, and penalizes the release and publication of information on individuals that have applied for or received a concealed handgun permit.

House Bill 277, introduced by state Representative Eddie Lambert (R-59), was temporarily postponed for additional amendments.  This bill would repeal the current duplicative state-level NFA weapon and suppressor registration.  Louisiana is the only state that has this burdensome registration scheme that adversely impacts law-abiding Louisianans and their businesses.  NFA weapons and suppressors are already heavily regulated by the federal government.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.