By Melinda Deslatte, AP
Louisiana would ban municipalities from enacting gun restrictions beyond those in state law and loosen restrictions on carrying guns in church, under two measures that moved closer to final legislative passage Thursday.
A Senate judiciary committee voted 4-1 to send those proposals by Republican Reps. Blake Miguez and Bryan Fontenot to the full Senate for debate. The House already has approved the measures.
Miguez’s legislation, pushed by the National Rifle Association, would prohibit local governments from banning guns in businesses and public buildings through ordinances that are tougher than the statewide restrictions enacted by Louisiana lawmakers.
Supporters said gun owners shouldn’t have to learn a patchwork of restrictions in a state with 367 different municipal entities.
“We shouldn’t make law-abiding citizens criminals because they travel to a different parish,” Miguez said.
Opponents, including the Louisiana Municipal Association, said bill proponents haven’t shown specific instances where Louisiana ordinances have proven to be a problem for gun owners. They objected to keeping local governments from enacting restrictions for places like gyms and children’s playgrounds.
“I believe that a one-size-fits-all is not the best answer in this situation,” said Sen. Regina Barrow, a Baton Rouge Democrat and only committee member to oppose the gun bills.
The legislation would nullify gun restrictions in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles, Thibodaux and other municipalities.
Fontenot’s bill would repeal a law allowing a concealed handgun permit holder to bring a gun in church only if church authorities inform their congregations. It also would do away with a provision allowing church authorities to require anyone wishing to carry into the facilities to take an extra eight hours of tactical training each year.
Supporters said churches still could prohibit guns if they post a sign notifying congregants and concealed handguns still wouldn’t be allowed in churches located on school property. Critics questioned those claims.