Thu 31 May, 2012 01:38 am
The Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
BATON ROUGE –
Louisiana voters will decide this November whether to amend
the State Constitution to limit ability of the Legislature and other
arms of government to restrict the right to carry guns.
The Senate gave a final 34-4 approval to language that will give
Second Amendment rights the benefit of "strict scrutiny," a term
used by the U.S. Supreme Court to require that government must
have a compelling interest before regulating constitutional rights
and that any limits must be narrowly tailored.
With the backing of the influential National Rifle Association
and Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, pushed the
measure to put Louisiana law in line with recent U.S. Supreme Court
cases that struck down local weapons bans. Riser said the additional
state protection is needed to clarify Louisiana law and protect gun owners
from the actions of future lawmakers and jurists.
The amendment requires majority approval on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Gov. Jindal released a written statement after the vote:
"We are adopting the strongest, most iron-clad, constitutional protection
for law-abiding gun owners. It's our own Second Amendment, if you will,
and I look forward to voting for this amendment in the fall."
The bill drew overwhelming support throughout the session,
with critics coming almost entirely from among black Democrats.
That continued Tuesday with nay votes from Sens. Sharon Weston
Broome and Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb of Baton Rouge and Sens. Edwin
Murray and Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans.
Dissenters during committee and floor debates expressed concerns
that the measure could gut weapons restrictions such as those on
university campuses and local ordinances banning weapons in bars.
Riser and other supporters argued that those bans, as long as they
are narrowly tailored, meet the Supreme Court's strict scrutiny test.
Riser and his allies successfully beat back several amendments that
would have exempted various limits from the strict scrutiny language.
A handful of district attorneys argued against the measure, telling
lawmakers that the language opens the door for legal challenges
to gun laws, regardless of Riser's contentions. Orleans Parish District
Attorney Leon Cannizzaro was among the prosecutors who opposed
the bill. The Louisiana District Attorneys Association remained neutral
on the bill, because some prosecutors supported the measure.
Handing the gun rights lobby another victory
not long after approving Riser's constitutional amendment,
the Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to criminalize the
reckless discharge of a firearm near residences in unincorporated areas.
While exempting any action intended to protect life or property,
the negligent discharge bill would have made it a crime to fire
a gun within 1,000 feet of a residence in an unincorporated area.
The bill would have set a maximum fine of $250 for the first
conviction and $500 for repeat convictions.
Rep. Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice, said he filed his House Bill 204 in
response to a specific constituent complaint about errant shots.
Riser told his colleagues the proposal was too broad, threatening
property rights and gun rights. Riser carried the day in a 1-33 vote.
Only Sen. Elbert Guillory, an Opelousas Democrat who carried the
bill in the upper chamber, supported his House colleague.
The bill had cleared the House in a 90-0 vote.
[All emfasis has been added by David.]
I really LOVE New Orleans.
It has a lot of gun stores.
It has really terrific food; I gotta go back there.