Undeterred by even a gun bill sponsor’s admission that it is unconstitutional, the Louisiana House passed legislation Tuesday to criminalize any enforcement of gun laws restricting possession of semi-automatic weapons. By a vote of 67–25, legislators signaled their approval for punishment by up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine for officers’ attempts to enforce federal law. The Times-Picayune reports:
House Bill 5 passed by a vote of 67–25 even as its sponsor, state Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, reiterated his belief that the legislation is unconstitutional. […]
“Although I like what this bill states…I have $100,000 of student loans that tell me it’s probably unconstitutional,” said Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, one of the bill’s supporters. Opponents cited the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says any state law that conflicts with federal law is unconstitutional.
Morris also said he know the passage of his bill could open up the state to litigation. Regardless, he said it would be worth fighting the federal government on the issue even “if we have to spend every dime.”
In November, Louisiana voters passed a ballot initiative that created constitutional gun rights that are arguably stricter than the Second Amendment. A court has already relied on this constitutional amendment to strike down a ban on gun possession by violent felons. But even this state amendment cannot insulate the state from the supremacy of federal gun law.
The bill, which will now go before the Senate, is one of eight aimed at expanding gun rights that cleared a House committee the day after the Senate filibustered federal background check legislation. Also on Tuesday, the House passed a bill to penalize one who “intentionally disseminates for publication” concealed carry permit information. Because the bill would ostensibly punish even third parties who don’t illegally obtain the protected information, the bill could violate the First Amendment and newspapers are threatening to sue.
On Wednesday, the House passed another bill to allow lifetime concealed carry permits, meaning once someone is vetted once for a permit, they will never have to verify that they still qualify. But proponents of the bill said the Louisiana State Police, which issue the permits, are immediately informed if a permit-holder is involved in a felony, and their permit is immediately revoked.