‘John Wayne Bill’ moves to Senate

On a 5-3 vote, legislation now known as the “John Wayne Bill” made its way Tuesday to the state Senate floor.

The Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs voted in favor of Senate Bill 651, which would allow legislators to carry guns at the State Capitol.

The committee’s chairman, state Sen. Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales, called the legislation up for debate by requesting the John Wayne bill.

Senate Bill 651’s sponsor, state Sen. Bret Allain, said legislators would need a level of expertise before they could bring weapons into the chambers or committee rooms.

A legislator would need a current statewide handgun permit and annual firearms training.

“I’ve gotten no objection,” Allain, R-Franklin, told the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs.

One committee member, Sen. J.P. Morrell, told Allain that he had some objections.

“I don’t know that I necessarily trust legislators with guns,” Morrell said.

Morrell, D-New Orleans, asked what would have happened if guns had been on the floor Monday during a heated debate over “chicken boxing,” which proponents claim is a more humane alternative to cockfighting. Presumably, Morrell was joking but he was serious about his concerns involving the bill.

“This is a really interesting bill, and it’s one that gives me concern and pause,” Morrell said.

Allain assured Morrell that legislators would need to complete several steps in order to carry a weapon.

Voting FOR legislators carrying guns(5): State Sens. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville, Neil Riser, R-Columbia, Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, and Amedee.

Voting AGAINST SB651 (3): State Sens. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, and Morrell.