House Bill 10 from state Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, would allow off-duty officers to carry firearms inside bars and restaurants that serve booze.
A similar bill co-authored by Burns, House Bill 72, proposes permitting off-duty and retired law enforcement to carry firearms in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. It also would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their firearms in restaurants with booze. On April 2, the latter bill, by state Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie, won approval from the House Criminal Justice Committee by a vote of 9-4. The measure now heads to the House floor.
State Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, a former head of the Louisiana State Police, prodded Lopinto as to why the legislation is necessary, asking, "You take your gun with you (to bars and restaurants)?" Lopinto, a former Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy, reminded the committee that permit holders already can have their permit revoked if their blood alcohol concentration is above .05 percent. "If I go out and have drinks I won't have my gun with me," Lopinto said. "If something happens to me, and it's called into question the alcohol in me ..."
"But you're the exception," Landry said. "You know the consequences of irrational, under-the-influence behavior. You're not the rule. ... We have irresponsible people [who believe] alcohol and a gun make them a bigger person."
State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, also criticized the bill. "Louisiana puts nothing before guns," she said. "We'll go at whatever costs we need to to make sure we can do everything and anything with our guns."
In 2013, legislators attempted a similar measure, but it was killed in a Senate committee. Last year's gun package — signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal — included seven bills that he said aimed to improve gun safety and "strengthen Second Amendment protections." One of those measures included a bill that creates a lifetime concealed-carry permit. Another measure prohibits the publication of permit holders' information.
These bills arrived after the 2012 passage of a law — approved by more than 1.3 million Louisiana voters — that amended the state constitution to make gun ownership a "fundamental right under strict scrutiny of Second Amendment rights the strongest in the country.