Senators back bill blocking federal gun regulation

May 7, 2013, 1:45 pm

By LITTICE BACON-BLOOD

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A state Senate panel took less than five minutes Tuesday to back a bill prohibiting Louisiana from enforcing any federal restrictions on semi-automatic weapons. Meanwhile, a proposal to let people carry concealed handguns in restaurants was rejected by another committee.

With little discussion, the Senate Judiciary C Committee advanced the bill that would limit federal oversight of gun ownership in Louisiana. The House already has approved the proposal, which heads next to the Senate floor.

Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, has promoted his bill as a "states' rights" measure allowing Louisiana residents to own and possess the weapon of their choice without interference from the federal government. It was approved 4-1.

The committee also approved a separate bill by Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, that would make it a misdemeanor to release or publish the names of people with concealed weapon permits.

The House-backed proposal passed 5-1, and moves to the full Senate.

Backers called it a public safety issue, saying publishing the names would make the permit holders "targets."

Thompson and other supporters have repeatedly invoked a New York newspaper's decision to publish the names and addresses of gun owners following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. as the rationale for adding a criminal penalty to publishing the names.

However, representatives of the Louisiana Press Association who spoke against the bill told the committee it would hinder the media's watchdog role and violate the First Amendment's constitutional freedom of the press provision to publish factual information.

Carl Redman, senior editor of The Advocate newspaper, questioned what other information lawmakers will deem private and make a crime to publish.

"It's a slippery slope," Redman said.

Pam Mitchell, executive director of the state press association, said New York lawmakers have not made the names of gun owners off-limits, but have given applicants an "opt-out" clause for inclusion in public records.

The panel also approved a bill that would allow residents to apply for a lifetime concealed weapons permit. The House-backed proposal by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, would require permit holders to meet education requirements every five years, but would exempt them from having to submit a new application and fingerprints.

Meanwhile, another Senate judiciary panel rejected a measure that would have allowed anyone with a concealed weapon permit to carry a gun into restaurants.

The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House, began as a proposal by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, to allow off-duty law enforcement officials to have a gun in a restaurant that also served liquor. However, a House committee amendment expanded the bill to include anyone permitted to carry a gun.

The Louisiana Hotel and Lodging Association opposed expanding the law.

Members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee voted to defer the bill, which could kill it for this session.

___

Online:

House Bills 5, 8, 48 and 265 can be found at

Tags:
RELATED STORIES
COMMENTS
Severe storm watches and warnings continue throughout New England
Authorities say 34-year-old Nathaniel E. Kibby of Gorham, NH has been charged with 1 count felony kidnapping
33-year-old Joel Smith killed wife, 3 young children before committing suicide in their Saco, Maine home