- Posted May 2, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stronger protection on gun laws in Louisiana.
Yep the NRA lobbyist at it again. I live in a crazy place. There are some people who are not happy about this. Two district attorneys in fact. Top this with already "Stand your ground stupid law."
BATON ROUGE -- A proposed change in the state Constitution to strengthen gun owners' rights cleared a House committee Wednesday on a 9-5 vote. Senate Bill 303 by Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, took on substantial changes in the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice as it heads to the full House.
Sen. Neil Riser
Riser said the proposal "will give Louisiana the strongest Second Amendment rights in the nation," referring to the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms. "This bill means more to me than any of the bills I have handled.
"This protects the rights of law-abiding citizens."
Riser said the measure, worked on by his staff and National Rifle Association lobbyists seated at the witness table with him, is needed to protect future generations of legal gun owners from having courts or more liberal Louisiana legislatures restrict that right.
The measure was supported and lobbied heavily by the NRA, a powerful gun-rights organization, and Gov. Bobby Jindal's lobbyists.
The proposal has passed the Senate and now needs a two-thirds vote of the full House. From there, the changes made by the House must go back to the Senate for another two-thirds approval. If it survives that process, the proposal will be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters to approve or reject.
The measure says that any restriction on the right to bear arms in Louisiana will be subject to "strict scrutiny," a legal term that would make it harder to impose changes.
Riser said that lawmakers can still restrict guns in bars and schools because there is "a compelling interest" to ban them there, but the restrictions must be narrowly drawn.
The measure also says that the right if each citizen "to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall nor be abridged" and does not prevent the passage of laws "relative to the carrying of weapons concealed on the person."
Riser's measure strikes language in the existing Constitution that gives lawmakers the power to pass laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons in some cases.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Plaquemines Parish District Attorney Charles Ballay and Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier testified against the bill saying that the measure would pave the way for criminals and others to challenge existing gun laws.
"This is not a good bill," DeRosier said. "We are talking about the thugs and the crackheads who will challenge existing gun laws."
"I can guarantee you it doesn't stop crime in Orleans Parish," Cannizzaro said. "We will see some litigation trying to outlaw some of the (gun) laws we have passed."
The Louisiana District Attorneys Association was neutral on the bill because some of its members backed it and others opposed it, association executive director Ellis "Pete" Adams said.
David Teagle, president of the student body at Delgado Community College, said that the existing constitutional provisions are sufficient to protect law-abiding gun-owners. "This creates an unknown factor for the safety of college students," he said, referring to recent efforts to lessen gun restrictions on campuses.
The panel also scuttled, 12-0, an unnumbered substitute for House Bill 1070 by Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, to better assure prosecutors make their files available to defense attorneys and turn over any evidence that could be favorable to defendants before trial. It also required district attorneys to put in writing any plea deal or other sentencing consideration prosecutors make to witnesses or possible defendants in a case.
The bill is dead for the session unless backers can find a way to amend it on to another bill that is still alive.