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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Citizens debate open carry

  • The National Rifle Association made the slogan "I'll give you my gun when you pry (or take) it from my cold, dead hands" popular in 1976 and this sentiment still rings true for many.
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  • The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This right is increasingly coming under fire due to recent shootings across the United States. In Louisiana, it is legal for citizens, within certain parameters, to openly carry a firearm and this right is not always known by the public. The Attorney General's Opinion No. 97-0485 states "There is no Louisiana law which in general prohibits carrying a handgun if that handgun is not concealed." But, this opinion, again is subject to parameters. It is unlawful to openly carry a firearm into any alcoholic beverage outlet, which is defined as any commercial establishment in which alcoholic beverages of either high or low alcoholic content are sold in individual servings for consumption on the premises, whether or not such sales are a primary or incidental purpose of the business of the establishment. It is also unlawful to carry a firearm on any school campus during regular school hours or on a school bus. "School" means any elementary, secondary, high school, or vo-tech school in this state and "campus" means all facilities and property within the boundary of the school property. "School bus" means any motor bus being used to transport children to and from school or in connection with school activities. Persons who have been convicted of certain felonies are not allowed to possess firearms at all. In speaking with citizens regarding both open and concealed carrying of a weapon, many do not realize that it is legal to carry a firearm in plain view. One citizen said she feels uncomfortable when she sees someone other than law enforcement officers with a gun. Her thoughts were that if a situation happened and that person pulled a gun, it may make the situation worse. "If I see someone with a gun strapped to their side, I immediately start looking around my surroundings to see where I can run if that person gets in an argument," she said. Open carry, she feels is too lax because the carrier is not required to have a permit, take a test or register. "If anyone, besides a felon, can open carry, it's dangerous because of people who think because they have that weapon, they are '10 feet tall and bullet proof.'" Others who have lost loved ones due to the misuse of firearms also spoke out. "A girl I grew up with took her own life with one of the many guns kept in her parents' home. She was 21. She was a responsible gun owner herself, and grew up hunting with her dad. All of her gun sense was dismissed in one heated afternoon, in one heated moment, and now she's gone. That one moment is all it takes for a life to end by gun." Suicide by gun has increasingly became more prevalent with more people owning and having them in their homes. In 2010, gun suicides across the country were 19,392, where as gun homicides for that same year were 11,078. Proponents for open carry agree that it is a good thing when practiced correctly. One commenter stated... "When practiced by lawful citizens who display proper mannerisms and who have read/understood the laws pertaining to Open Carry, it is a good thing. My family and I also support local businesses that allow OC as well as those that support the Second Amendment." Randall Hayes, who was the was the Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senator from Louisiana in 2010, spoke out about his feelings: "I OC most everywhere I go, and as of yet, I have never been asked to leave any establishment. Store patrons have asked if I was law enforcement, of which I state 'no, I'm open carrying', then hand them a LOCAL or LOCA card referencing to the Louisiana Statute on OC. "This opens the eyes of the uninformed citizen. Many do not know that OC is in fact legal in Louisiana unless restricted by the law or business," Hayes continued. "This day and age, I'd much rather have my firearm and not need it versus need it and not have it. I think your efforts in covering the issue will benefit both sides of the fraction." Vietnam vet and Bastrop resident William Gorman said he even though he suffered two gunshot wounds while serving in the military, he still believes in the right to carry them. "Guns did not have anything to do with me getting shot," he said. "It was the person shooting them. I enjoy being able to teach young people the right way to handle and use guns." On the flip side of open carry is concealed carry. This too, is becoming more and more prevalent in not only Louisiana, but across the United States. As of December 31, 2009, there were 40,302 people with concealed carry permits and this number is growing daily. Reasons to carry a concealed weapon vary from person to person and not just men are applying. Women In Louisiana, those wishing to carry a concealed weapon must attend an approved course taught by an NRA or P.O.S.T. certified instructor that is registered with State Police, or complete small arms training while serving in the military. They must also fill out the proper paper work with the Louisiana State Police and meet all of the requirements. The eight-hour course consists of teaching the laws pertaining to concealed carry as well as firearm safety. Also, those taking the course are required to pass a firearm test where applicants physically use their weapon. Governor Bobby Jindal recently signed several new laws regarding those with concealed carry permits as well as other gun related laws. Act 84 of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session allows for the issuance of a lifetime concealed handgun permit. These lifetime permits will be issued beginning August 1, 2013. Jindal also signed legislation making it a crime to publish the personal information of permit holders; these applications were exempted from the public records law in 2008 and this new piece of legislation gives penalties for those who publish the information in any way.
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