Gov. Bobby Jindal used a visit to West Monroe on Wednesday, the third stop on his 64 parish statewide tour, to sign six gun bills into law. The legislation includes a measure to penalize anyone who publishes concealed handgun permit information and another to increase information sharing with federal authorities on mental health and firearm possession.
"We're not just signing a few bills -- we're also celebrating the Sportsman's Paradise and American values," Jindal said in an email statement Wednesday afternoon. "Today, we are building on the work we've done to protect the rights of Louisianians while also implementing common-sense gun safety measures."
The most discussed piece of legislation in the batch signed Wednesday was House Bill 8 by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City. The new law will enforce penalties on the intentional publication of the personal information of concealed handgun permit holders.
Citizens face penalties of up to six months in jail and $10,000 for those who "intentionally disseminate for publication" the personal information, such as names and addresses, of permit holders. Law enforcement or public safety employees who share such information will face up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.
Thompson, who helped found the pro-gun group Defend Louisiana this year, said the legislation was introduced largely as a reaction to the publication of New York gun permit holders' names and addresses by The Journal News last year. He said permit holders' lives and property were put at risk by the release and he wants to ensure such publication will be penalized in Louisiana.
"It is a great day in Louisiana and across this nation for those of us who refuse to give an inch when it comes to defending our right to protect our families and we will stand strong in the defense of the Second Amendment," Thompson said Wednesday.
"Responsible, law-abiding citizens should not be villainized simply because they are concealed carry permit holders," he added.
The bill received significant push-back from journalists, including Baton Rouge Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman and Louisiana Press Association Executive Director Pamela Mitchell. Penalties will not be imposed if the permit holder had approved the information release or if it was already in the public domain. Publication would be allowable if the permit holder committed a felony involving a gun or if the information is subject to a court order.
The governor also signed two bills that would mandate state courts share more information with federal authorities, especially as they relate to mental health information and background checks for gun buyers. The legislation aims to keep guns out of the hands of people with legally defined mental health problems.
House Bill 717 and Senate Bill 135, were introduced by Haughton Republican Henry Burns and Columbia Republican Neil Riser.
The new laws will require clerks of court in Louisiana to report to the state Supreme Court when a citizen loses the right to possess firearms. This can occur when someone is found guilty of certain criminal offenses or when a legal determination has been made that the citizen lacks the mental capacity to stand trial.
The court would then send this information to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check system. The system is utilized by every federal licensed firearm dealer in the country to ensure a potential buyer does not have a criminal or mental health history that precludes the purchase of a gun.
In Louisiana, a citizen is legally barred from buying a gun if he or she pleads guilty to a crime by reason of insanity, lacks the mental capacity to proceed to trial for a crime or is involuntarily ordered to be committed to an inpatient mental health treatment facility.
The law mandates specific information must be passed to the FBI NICS system, including date of birth, aliases, Social Security number, race and gender of the person in question.
The three other pieces of legislation Jindal signed into law Wednesday include:
House Bill 6 by Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington: Will allow off-duty law enforcement officers to carry their guns onto school campuses. Law only applies to commissioned, certified law enforcement agents. Given final passage by the Legislature May 28.
House Bill 98, sponsored by Thompson: Will allow sheriffs to recognize concealed handgun permits issued by their colleagues in neighboring parishes. In Louisiana, the State Police and individual parish sheriffs have the power to issue the permits. Given final passage June 6.
Senate Bill 178, sponsored by Riser: Will allow voter registration application forms to be made available to gun buyers "at the point of purchase." The dealer distributing the applications must have a federal firearms license and employ at least 25 full-time workers.
The six bills represented the last pieces of gun-related legislation to pass the Legislature this year that had yet to be signed. Also on Wednesday, Jindal ceremoniously signed a bill he had already given final approval to that would allow for lifetime concealed handgun permits.
"In the face of an administration in Washington that wants to take away the rights of law-abiding gun owners, we are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution of the United States," Jindal statement said.
While the governor did signed seven gun bills into law, two other pieces of legislation that sought to circumvent White House-backed gun control laws died in the state senate this year. Lawmakers in both chambers expressed concerns with the bill's constitutionality and with the possibility of opening the state up to costly litigation from he federal government.