Education is crucial for concealed carry privileges
On April 30, 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Lloyd B. Johnson training center. On stage, Governor Edwards spoke about the training center, his family’s tradition of serving in law enforcement and COVID, among other topics.
One of his topics, Senate Bill 118 or the concealed carry bill, stood out to me. I simply cannot support carrying a concealed carry firearm without proper education and safety training. I believe the majority of Louisianans agree with me. Our current system strikes the right balance of ensuring that people can bear arms while also keeping reasonable permitting and training processes in place. It is a matter of basic public safety and numerous law enforcement leaders statewide opposed the bill for this reason, especially as it relates to the enhanced risk posed to their officers. Simply put, it is not too much to ask that a person who wishes to carry a concealed weapon in public be required to attend basic marksmanship and safety training so they understand the regulations associated with such an action. That’s reasonable and responsible. “For these reasons, I have vetoed the permitless carry bill,” the governor said.
As I took my turn to speak at the podium, I made it clear that I would stand behind, in front, or on side of him in agreement. To allow a 21-year-old to carry a concealed weapon without any training or permit, as I’ve learned in my 33 years of law enforcement, would be dangerous.
During the recent legislative session, SB 118 came up for a vote. SB118 won final passage June 1 on a 27-9 vote in the Senate. It was then sent to the governor’s desk for final approval. We all knew where Governor Edwards stood on this matter. He immediately vetoed SB 118.
A special session was then called by the Legislature. An attempt was made to vote to override the Governor’s veto of SB 118. On Tuesday, July 20, a vote was taken in the Senate, and failed. The override attempt received 23 of the 26 required votes needed.
Personally, I have no problem with citizens protecting themselves. I do have a problem with everyone carrying a gun concealed. Recently in July in St. John Parish, 911 dispatchers received a call of an individual that had been shot in the 500 block of Fife Lane. Upon arrival officers found a 14-year-old girl on the floor in the living room who had been shot in the back. Investigators found that the girl had been sitting on the sofa and was shot after a gun was accidentally discharged by a 20-year-old in a rear bedroom of the residence.
Weapon safety two-hour classes will start this fall at the LBJ Training Center. Classroom training and safety will be addressed, and students will fire a handgun in the indoor shooting range. Preregistration will be required. The fall class will be for females only. More details will be announced later.
Mike Tregre is sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish. His office can be reached at 985-652-9513.