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Louisiana's Legislature is poised to pass a bill that would allow adults 21 and older to carry a concealed gun without requiring a permit or training.
Oil City Republican Rep. Danny McCormick's House Bill 37, which has already won House approval, was advanced by the Senate Judiciary C Committee Tuesday on a 4-2 vote.
McCormick insisted removing the existing permit and training requirements "won't turn us into the wild, wild West."
"It removes the government tax and red tape that stand between law-abiding citizens and their Second Amendment rights," McCormick said. "I trust individuals with their rights."
A similar bill was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards last year. Lawmakers were unable to overturn Edwards' veto in 2021. Edwards hasn't said if he will veto McCormick's bill if it wins final passage as expected.
Twenty-five states have enacted similar laws, which supporters describe as "constitutional carry" because they believe the U.S. Constitution already grants people the right to possess concealed guns.
Louisiana is already what's known as an "open carry" state, which means people can carry visible firearms without a permit.
"Louisiana is not stepping into the unknown," said Louisiana Shooting Association President Dan Zelenka while testifying in favor of the bill.
Louisiana currently requires someone to buy a $125 permit and complete nine hours of in-person training, which can cost as much as $150, before carrying a concealed gun.
Zelenka said that creates a financial barrier for people who can't afford the permit and training.
Opponents, like those representing the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, warned allowing concealed carry without permits elevates the potential of illegal gun violence or accidental shootings.
"House Bill 37 doesn't promote a culture of life," said Tom Constanza, executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It removes important and reasonable training safeguards that protect life."
"The fringe folks who support this don't choose life," said Angelle Bradford, a volunteer with Louisiana Moms Demand Action.
McCormick said concealing a gun in a purse or jacket "isn't going to cause chaos."
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: 'Constitutional carry' gun bill nears passage in Louisiana