Brief: Lafayette House delegation splits on concealed carry bill

Lafayette Parish’s seven House members split along party—and racial lines—Wednesday when the House version of a bill to remove the training requirement to carry a concealed handgun received final passage on a veto-proof 72-28 vote.

Republican Reps. Gerald Beaullieu, Stuart Bishop, Jean-Paul Coussan, Julie Emerson and Jonathan Goudeau voted for HB596, sponsored by Rep. Brian Fontenot, R-Thibodaux. Democratic Reps. Vincent Pierre and Marcus Bryant, both Black, voted nay.

Black Louisianans were killed by firearms in 2019 at more than double the per capita rate of white people, according to data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Louisiana’s police chief association opposes the legislation, warning it could lead to more gun violence.

Emerson successfully added an amendment raising the blood-alcohol limit for carrying a concealed handgun from .05 to .08. It was approved by voice vote. Another amendment by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, to lower the age limit for concealed carry from 21 to 18 was defeated 69-29. Beaullieu, who represents parts of Lafayette and Iberia parishes, and Emerson, of Carencro, voted to lower the age limit. Bishop, Bryant, Goudeau and Pierre voted against it, and Coussan was absent from the floor.

But the House approved by voice vote another amendment by Fontenot that says, “State police shall maintain an online database of all licensed handgun and firearm instructors to allow the public to search for classes.” 

A similar Senate bill, SB118 by Sen. Jay Morris, R-West Monroe, passed the Senate last week 27-11. The two houses must now resolve the discrepancies between the two, such as the blood-alcohol limit and the other amendment added in the House. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards has vowed to veto any bill removing the training requirement, but both the House and Senate versions passed by more than a two-thirds vote.