House advances bill for gun-toting legislators

Louisiana legislators would be added to a special class of officials allowed to carry guns in otherwise prohibited places under a bill advancing in the State Capitol.

The House on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 651 that would allow state lawmakers to carry concealed weapons anywhere peace officers — judges, constables, coroners, district attorneys and other authorities — can under current law. That includes public buildings, parades, polling places and other locations that are normally “gun free” zones for Louisianans. Because it was amended on the House floor Tuesday, SB651 heads back to the Senate.

“This just adds legislators to the group; it doesn’t broaden where people can go,” said state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City.

SB651 bars lawmakers and anyone else from packing heat at the state Capitol, Thompson noted.

The legislation also would require annual Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training. An earlier version would have required all peace officers, including lawmakers, submit to psychiatric evaluation before they could carry weapons under SB651. The House removed that requirement in approving the legislation Tuesday.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of the Louisiana Legislature, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .