With most of the focus being on COVID-19’s impact on small businesses, Louisiana’s budget, and tort reform, it may have been easy to forget that there were actually four gun bills seeking passage in the shortened Legislative Session.
But, they all made it through – most with super majority vote of both chambers – and are headed to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk for his signature.
“All four are strong pro-gun rights bills that strengthen Louisiana citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” says Chairman of the House Republican Delegation and competitive shooting champion Rep. Blake Miguez (R-Erath). “The bills protect our freedom in times of uncertainty and emergency, including during the current Covid-19 outbreak.”
- House Bill 781, sponsored by Rep. Blake Miguez, establishes that firearms and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, suppliers, and retailers are “Essential Businesses” that shall not be prohibited from conducting business during a declared disaster or emergency. HB 781 further prevents law-abiding gun owners’ rights from being infringed during proclaimed curfews.
- House Bill 140, sponsored by Rep. Blake Miguez, prevents local authorities and municipalities from imposing restrictions to prohibit the possession of a firearm. Preemption legislation is designed to stop municipalities from creating a patchwork of different laws that turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal for simply crossing a jurisdictional line.
- House Bill 746, sponsored by Rep. Ray Garofalo, allows those who lawfully possess a firearm to carry concealed for self-defense during a mandatory evacuation under a declared state of emergency or disaster.
- House Bill 334, sponsored by Reps. Bryan Fontenot, Blake Miguez and Charles Owen, authorizes a concealed handgun permit holder to carry a concealed handgun in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other similar place of worship.
The last bill listed, pertaining to the churches, was certainly the headliner of the four.
“Current Louisiana law provides that a person with a state-issued concealed carry permit cannot carry in a house of worship unless he has permission from the governing body of the church and the congregation is informed that he or she has permission,” points out Tara Mica, NRA-ILA State Director. “Effectively, this acts as a ban on carry.”
The National Rifle Assocation (NRA) backed Republican efforts to pass these bills. Two men who were instrumental in stopping two church shootings – Stephen Willeford and Jack Wilson – each spoke on the Moon Griffon Show in support of the bill.
In the interview, you will hear them tell their stories:
- Stephen Willeford (former NRA certified instructor), Sutherland Springs: In November 2017, in the span of 11 minutes, 26 people were killed and 20 wounded during church services at the First Baptist Church before a neighbor (Willeford) with his AR-15 engaged the shooter outside the church, wounded him and then chased him down by truck with another man after he fled the scene.
- Jack Wilson (firearms instructor and former reserved deputy), White Settlement: In December of 2019, two members of the West Freeway Church of Christ congregation were killed and further injuries were stopped within six seconds by a church member voluntarily providing security (Wilson).
“Louisiana’s concealed carry permit law already resembles Texas License To Carry law,” says Mica. “License holders in both states have passed a state and federal background check and completed classroom and shooting range training, as well as instruction in state firearm and deadly force laws with a minimum of 9 hours instruction in Louisiana; 4 to 6 hours in Texas. This bill would remove the prohibition in law for permit holders and treat houses of worship like any other private establishment. Concealed carry is allowed unless the church prohibits it. With this change, Louisiana law would track Texas law.”