The House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee voted 8-5 to involuntarily defer Baton Rouge Rep. Barry Ivey's HB68 on Wednesday morning.
Law enforcement groups and prosecutors opposed the bill, which would have eliminated the need for gun owners to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The Louisiana District Attorneys Association, the Louisiana Sheriffs Association, the Louisiana Association of Police Chiefs as well as individual prosecutors and law enforcement officers either had representatives testify or file cards in opposition to the bill.
Louisiana residents allied with national groups Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, which also testified against HB68.
But the fate of the bill appeared to have been decided by the testimony of New Orleans school teacher Cissy Rowley, who told the committee she was a victim of the Grand Theater shooting in Lafayette on July 23, 2015.
Rowley said the gunman in that incident had been denied a concealed carry permit in Alabama because of information found in his background check.
"This bill would eliminate protections against those who cannot responsibly be allowed to carry concealed weapons," Rowley testified.
"Since the concealed carry law was established in 1996, 5,000 permits have been revoked," Rowley added. "The concealed carry law stops people who should not be allowed to carry concealed weapons from doing so."
Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge proposed a motion to involuntarily defer the bill, which effectively kills it for the session.
Committee chair Rep. Sherman Mack of Albany explained to the committee that a vote in support of James' motion was a vote against the bill.
James motion carried 8-5. Among those voting in favor of killing the bill were two committee members with law enforcement backgrounds: Rep. Terry Landry of Lafayette is a former head of the Louisiana State Police. Rep. Frankie Howard of Many is a former sheriff of Vernon Parish. Newly elected Rep. John Stefanski of Crowley was among the five committee members to vote against deferring the bill.
In a brief interview at the Capitol on Tuesday, Ivey said that it makes no sense to him for the state to charge a fee for a person to exercise their constitutional right.
"Louisiana has an open carry law," Ivey said. "You can carry a gun on your waist, you don't have to have special training, you don't have to pay a fee to exercise your constitutional right. What HB68 does is recognize that and then extend that to concealed carry."
"If it's cold outside and you have to go put a jacket on, you shouldn't have to go spend $150 to $200 for a class which would mean you'd either have to take time off from work or go on the weekend," Ivey continued. "Then, you'd have to go get your fingerprints done somewhere. Then you have to submit an application to the state police and wait three, six, eight months or whatever the backlog is — just so you can exercise what is a fundamental right."
"I believe the fundamental issue is one of possession," the second-term lawmaker tells The Independent. "You're either eligible to possess or you're not. How you possess is not so relevant. It all boils down to personal responsibility."
The majority of the committee disagreed with Ivey. The bill is now dead for the session.