Louisiana seeks to do away with concealed carry fees for veterans

A bill on the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards would allow Louisiana’s veteran population to obtain a free concealed carry permit.

The measure, introduced in March, proved extremely popular with lawmakers who approved it 96-0 and 37-1 in the state House and Senate respectively. The only “nay” vote came from New Orleans Democrat Sen. Karen Carter Peterson who also serves as the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, and flew through the legislature without debate.

Magee’s proposal, HB 304, would amend current law which provides for a 50 percent discount for active duty, reserve and veteran members of the armed forces by replacing it with an option for a free permit. Current standard fees for a five-year license in the shall-issue state are $125 with a lifetime permit available for $500.

According to research from the legislative fiscal office, the state’s Public Safety Services gave 4,623 discounted concealed carry permits to military veterans out of 17,853 permits issued statewide last year, or about one in four. The office estimates that the state could stand to lose as much as $1.5 million per year if the bill becomes law, but the Concealed Handgun Permit Fund brought in over $3.7 million in 2015.

Historically, revenues have far outpaced expenditures for that fund, with $1.625 million allocated to the Louisiana State Police’s permit unit in the 2015 budget.

As noted by data from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, there are over 330,000 veterans in Louisiana.

The bill was transmitted to the governor on May 5.

While a Democrat, Gov. Edwards is a veteran himself, having graduated from the United States Military Academy then going on to spent eight years as an infantry officer, and contended during his race for the Governor’s mansion last year that he was pro-gun.

Update 5/12

Edwards signed the measure along with a host of others without comment on Wednesday.