House backs ban on enforcing federal gun law

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BATON ROUGE — The House Tuesday sent the Senate two gun bills their sponsors say will protect semi-automatic firearms in Louisiana and the identity of persons who apply for or receive concealed gun permits.

Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, is sponsor of House Bill 5. It says federal laws, rules, regulations or executive orders adopted after Jan. 1, 2013, banning or restricting semi-automatic firearms are not enforceable in Louisiana. His measure also includes magazines, accessories and ammunition for those weapons.

Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, is sponsor of House Bill 8. It prohibits the release of information contained in concealed handgun permit applications and the release of names of persons holding those permits.

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The Morris bill was approved 67-25. Thompson’s measure was approved 76-18. Lake Charles area House members voted for both bills, but Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, was recorded as absent.

Morris’ measure says the federal laws or regulations are unenforceable in Louisiana if they attempt to ban or restrict the ownership of a semi-automatic firearm or require registration of the firearm or its components.

Criminal penalties are established for anyone attempting to enforce “an unenforceable” federal law or executive order. The fine would be not more than $5,000, imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, tried to amend the bill to hold up its enforcement until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on its constitutionality. Supporters of the legislation said the high court doesn’t issue advisory opinions and might never hear the case.

The Hunter amendment was rejected 62-30.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus peppered Morris with questions, wanting to know how he could pass a law nullifying federal actions. However, he insisted what he was doing was worth whatever it costs in money, time or trouble in order to defend the rights of gun owners.

Morris said during a committee hearing on his legislation that it addresses “serious overreaching proposals of the federal government.” He said gun control doesn’t work and the real problem is guns getting into the hands of “evil people” or those with mental health issues.

“I’m just trying to protect my family,” he said. “And if it means me telling someone in Washington that I have that right, that’s what I’ll do. And I don’t want to relinquish that right.”

Thompson’s measure was amended to make it a $10,000 fine for anyone other than the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections to release the names of holders of concealed gun permits. He set up a six-month jail term, and made the offense a misdemeanor.

Holders of concealed permits would have the right to publicize their own names if that is their choice, Thompson said. A court could also order release of the information, he said.

“Citizens have a right to protect themselves,” he said.

Asked who would be charged in the case of a newspaper reporter divulging those names, Thompson said that would be up to local prosecutors. However, he said it would probably be the person responsible for publication of the information.

Staff writer John Guidroz contributed to this report.””GunControlII