The Louisiana legislature delivered HB331 to the Governor, a bill aimed at expanding the rights of gun owners in the state. This bill, which is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature, seeks to modify existing laws pertaining to machine guns. If signed into law or overridden by a legislative veto, the provisions of HB331 will come into effect on August 1, 2023. Let’s delve into the details of this proposed legislation and its potential implications.
HB331: An Overview
The main objective of HB331 is to provide greater accessibility to machine guns for consumers in Louisiana, while ensuring compliance with federal regulations under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The bill aims to simplify the process of purchasing and possessing machine guns, as well as remove certain recordkeeping requirements associated with their transfer within the state.
HB331 begins by amending several sections of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, particularly R.S. 40:1751, 1752, 1755, and 1781(3) and (5). These amendments clarify the definition of “machine gun” and “firearm” for the purposes of the legislation.
Under the proposed law, a machine gun is described as any weapon capable of shooting automatically, firing more than one shot without manual reloading, and operated by a single trigger function. The definition encompasses the frame, receiver, and parts designed to convert a weapon into a machine gun. Importantly, items that do not require registration in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are excluded from this definition.
Impact on Machine Gun Ownership
If HB331 is enacted, Louisiana residents will have increased opportunities to legally purchase and possess machine guns. The bill removes the current prohibition on manufacturing, transferring, or possessing machine guns within the state, subject to compliance with the NFA. This change would align Louisiana with federal regulations governing these firearms.
Exceptions and Federal Compliance
While the bill eases restrictions on machine guns, it still incorporates certain exceptions and emphasizes compliance with federal law. HB331 acknowledges that transfers to or from, as well as possession under the authority of, the United States or any of its departments or agencies, are exempted from the state-level prohibitions. Similarly, transfers to or from, and possession by or under the authority of, any state or its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions are also exempted.
Furthermore, machine guns lawfully manufactured, transferred, or possessed under federal law would be exempt from the state-level prohibitions as well. This ensures that any machine guns legally obtained in accordance with federal regulations will be recognized and permitted within Louisiana.
Penalties and Repeals: The proposed legislation specifies penalties for violating the new provisions. Individuals found guilty of violating the machine gun restrictions set forth in HB331 could face imprisonment at hard labor for a period of one to ten years. Moreover, individuals with prior felony convictions related to violent crimes face enhanced penalties if found in violation of the new law.
Additionally, the bill repeals two existing sections, R.S. 40:1753 and 1754 which currently provide for transfer of machine guns to currently authorized parties and certain recordkeeping obligations with respect to machine guns.
HB331, currently awaiting the Governor’s decision has sparked discussions surrounding the accessibility and regulation of machine guns in Louisiana. If passed into law, this bill would redefine the ownership landscape for machine guns, streamlining the purchasing and possession processes while ensuring compliance with federal regulations under the National Firearms Act.