State representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two “gun rights” bills that supporters say would protect gun owners. Opponents called the bills unconstitutional and unnecessary.
The first measure, House Bill 5, would prevent the federal government from enforcing any law in Louisiana restricting the possession of semiautomatic firearms. HB5 passed on a vote of 67 for and 25 against amid concerns from some that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy” clause, which allows federal law to usurp state law.
The second measure, House Bill 8, would make it illegal for a person, agency or entity to make public any information, such as names and addresses, about concealed weapon permit holders or applicants. The measure was approved on a vote of 76 for and 18 against.
Violators would be face a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in prison.
State Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, argued that his HB5 is needed because of what he described as an overreaction to events such as the deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Morris has said that tragedy and others have led to attempts to infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe and chairwoman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, was one of the most vocal opponents of HB5.
Calling herself “a Second Amendment” person, Jackson stood on the House floor imploring her colleagues to vote against what she called an unnecessary and unconstitutional bill. She said a “yes” vote would be a violation of the oath legislators take to commit themselves to uphold state and federal laws.
“I’m questioning the integrity of this body. We normally throw something out that is unconstitutional,” Jackson said.
An amendment to the bill that would have required the U.S. Supreme Court to certify HB5 as legal before it could take effect failed for lack of support on a vote of 30 for and 62 against.
HB5 sponsor Morris defended his bill calling it a straightforward matter of “state’s rights.”
But supporters of the bill, including state Rep. Joseph Lopinto, a Republican lawyer from Metairie, questioned whether the measure would pass muster in front of a federal judge.
“I have $100,000 in student loans that says this is probably unconstitutional,” Lopinto said. “But I like the bill.”
HB5 moves to the state Senate for further consideration.
The debate then began on the second measure, HB8, and was equally contentious as opponents questioned why the bill is necessary and whether the penalties proposed are too harsh.
State Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, sponsored HB8. He said it was inspired partly by a New York newspaper’s decision to publish the names and addresses of concealed carry permit holders in their coverage area.
Those records already are considered private in Louisiana and not subject to public records laws.
Thompson said his bill would “disincentivize” a newspaper or other entity from intentionally publishing what is considered private information.
The Louisiana Press Association and The Advocate’s Executive Editor Carl Redman have previously spoken out against the bill.
State Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia and a former superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said the legislation was unnecessary. State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, cautioned that HB8 could “infringe on a newspaper’s right to do their jobs.”
“Will you be ready for a lawsuit?” she asked Thompson.
HB8 heads to the state Senate for further debate.
Voting FOR making it illegal to enforce federal restrictions on semiautomatic weapons in Louisiana (67): Speaker Kleckley, and state Reps. Adams, Anders, Armes, Barras, Berthelot, Billiot, S. Bishop, Broadwater, Brown, Burford, H. Burns, T. Burns, Carmody, Carter, Chaney, Connick, Cromer, Danahay, Dove, Fannin, Garofalo, Geymann, Gisclair, Greene, Guinn, Harris, Harrison, Havard, Hazel, Hensgens, Hill, Hodges, Hoffmann, Hollis, Howard, Huval, Ivey, Johnson, Lambert, N. Landry, LeBas, Leopold, Lopinto, Lorusso, Mack, Miller, Montoucet, Jay Morris, Jim Morris, Pearson, Ponti, Pope, Pugh, Pylant, Reynolds, Richard, Robideaux, Schexnayder, Seabaugh, Simon, Stokes, Talbot, Thibaut, Thompson, Whitney and Willmott.
Voting AGAINST HB5 (25): State Reps. Badon, Barrow, W. Bishop, Brossett, Burrell, Dixon, Edwards, Gaines, Honore, Hunter, G. Jackson, K. Jackson, James, Jefferson, T. Landry, Leger, Moreno, Norton, Pierre, Price, Ritchie, Shadoin, Smith, St. Germain and A. Williams.
NOT Voting (13): State Reps. Abramson, Arnold, Champagne, Cox, Foil, Franklin, Guillory, Henry, Jones, Ortego, Schroder, Thierry, and P. Williams.
Voting FOR making it illegal to publicize personal information about concealed weapons permit holders (76): Speaker Kleckley and state Reps. Adams, Anders, Armes, Arnold, Badon, Barras, Berthelot, Billiot, Bishop, S., Broadwater, Brown, Burford, H. Burns, , T. Burns, Carter, Chaney, Connick, Cox, Cromer, Danahay, Dove, Edwards, Fannin, Garofalo, Geymann, Gisclair, Greene, Guinn, Harris, Harrison, Havard, Hazel, Hensgens, Hill, Hodges, Hollis, Howard, Huval, Ivey, G. Jackson, , Johnson, Jones, Lambert, N. Landry, , LeBas, Leger, Leopold, Lopinto, Lorusso, Mack, Miller, Montoucet, Jay Morris, , Jim Morris, , Ortego, Pearson, Ponti, Pope, Pugh, Pylant, Reynolds, Richard, Ritchie, Robideaux, Schexnayder, Seabaugh, Shadoin, Simon, St. Germain, Stokes, Talbot, Thibaut, Thompson, Whitney and Willmott.
Voting AGAINST HB8 (18): State Reps. Barrow, W. Bishop, Brossett, Burrell, Dixon, Gaines, Honore, Hunter, K. Jackson, James, Jefferson, T. Landry, Norton, Pierre, Price, Smith, A. Williams and P. Williams.
NOT Voting (11): State Reps. Abramson, Carmody, Champagne, Foil, Franklin, Guillory, Henry, Hoffmann, Moreno, Schroder and Thierry.