SADOW: What’s John Bel Edwards Going To Do About Constitutional Carry?

There’s no good excuse for the Louisiana Legislature to hold off on removing the permit requirement to carry a concealed firearm – which puts Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in a bind.

HB 16 by Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick would make it legal for any adult otherwise not convicted of a crime that disqualifies possession of a firearm to carry a concealed firearm. Since Edwards assumed office, he has signed several pieces of legislation into law incrementally increasing the scope of legality of having concealed firearms without a permit. But neither a constitutional amendment nor a statute essentially mimicking HB 16 of 2021 made it out of committee.

Other states have moved ahead. Indiana looks well on its way to become the 19th state to adopt this, and Tennessee seems poised to follow. Opponents keep offering the same stale arguments that somehow mayhem will increase with permit-less carry.

But the facts are that, with decades of experience and data to verify, zero evidence supports that supposition. Others complain that permit revenues will go away and costs could increase in keeping track of whom the law disqualifies. Fine; HB 16 could be amended to mirror Indiana’s version with a one-time, lifetime charge that ensures reciprocity with other states.

This bill puts Edwards in a bind. He has shown willingness to buck his party at the margins on Second Amendment issues, and even, when contemplating a congressional run in 2006 before his election to the House in 2007, stated that he backed concealed carry.

The problem is, he has no political future inside or outside of Louisiana, with no chance to win any federal office in the state and, at this time, remains anathema to the national party elsewhere because he hasn’t voiced opposition to legislative efforts that have eased gun restrictions and increased those on abortion. Because of that, any job he could get in the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration would be less exalted than those held by former Louisiana officeholders such as Republican former Rep. John Fleming and former Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle.

If he has any political ambition at all, he has to start holding hands with national Democrats on these issues. He’s proven he can flipflop when necessary: when anticipating that same 2006 run, he said termed abortion as “the freedom of choice, between the appropriate parties and their higher power,” and voted in his early years in the House on legislation broadening its applicability. Now, he has persisted in his reversal for so long he can’t retreat on that.

However, he could repudiate his past stated view on permit-less concealed carry. In the eyes of his party’s overlords and Biden, coming out against this could redeem his relatively minor transgressions of incremental gains to Second Amendment rights he signed into law, and perhaps pave the way to a more prestigious job in Biden’s government.

Yet he might not get away with such a backtracking. The Senate has the GOP votes to override any veto he might cast, and a handful of non-Republicans in the House generally support expansive gun rights. As in the case of abortion bills, if he had any inkling to kowtow to the hard left, the numbers might force him to save face and sign something like HB 16 regardless.

Legislative leaders should show no mercy to his predicament. Unlike past efforts, they need to rally behind this bill that would enhance citizens’ abilities to exercise freedom and protect themselves from those, among others, who won’t follow the current restrictive law.

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