Schools remain gun-free after weapons bill pulled

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Chalmette lawmaker on Wednesday shelved a proposal that would have let school employees who possess concealed- handgun permits bring their weapons to work.
Rep. Ray Garofalo, a Republican, pulled his bill after getting negative feedback from the House criminal justice committee, but he said he hopes to revive it this session.
Garofalo said he wanted to send a message that those seeking to commit violence at schools will meet armed resistance. He said having gun-free campuses invites criminals and his bill would "remove the welcome mat."
"We don't want criminals and crazies on our school campus," he said.
He said the measure would be voluntary for those who choose to carry a weapon and pay for the required eight hours of training every year. Individual school administrations would also be allowed to maintain gun bans on their campuses if they chose.
Members of the committee said the bill was not a solution to violence at schools and would only add new risks and put students in danger.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.
Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, said it was unfair to expect teachers to act as law enforcement officials.
"They didn't sign up to be a police officer," he said.
Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, said angry students would be able to get their hands on a teacher's gun, saying it's common for police officers to be killed with their own weapons.
Garofalo pulled the bill and said he wanted to work with committee members on a compromise.
The committee then stalled a separate proposal by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, that would have required people to go through training before purchasing a gun. Committee members voted 6-6 on the bill, keeping it from advancing to the House floor.
Badon said he will bring the proposal back and work to persuade members to vote favorably next time.
Under the measure, people would have to present certification proving they went through training to buy a gun from a licensed seller for the first time.
Badon said the bill was meant to ensure gun owners know how to handle a potentially fatal weapon.
"It's just really about safety," he explained.
Pylant, who opposed the bill, said it was unfair to require more training for the public than law enforcement.
Joining Pylant in opposing the bill were Reps. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna; Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice; Frankie Howard, R-Many; Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie; and Sherman Mack, R-Livingston.
Supporting the measure were Badon, Landry, Norton and Reps. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport; Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans; and Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey.


LAUREN LANGLOIS, Associated Press

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