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Arms Race

Louisiana Could Have 'Strongest Second Amendment Law in the Nation' If Gun Law Ballot Question Passes



When it comes to the Second Amendment, Louisiana legislators are bringing out the biggest legal guns they can find.

 

For Pelican State voters, Amendment II on the Nov. 6 Ballot asks voters if they want to change the phrasing of the “Right to Bear Arms,” as it is defined in Louisiana's State Constitution.

 

Proponents of the measure say it will make Louisiana's defense of the Second Amendment the best in the nation. However, opponents are concerned that the new strict scrutiny measures could make it more difficult to limit gun trade, transfer or impose restrictions on concealed weapons at various venues in the future.

 
Amendment 2

Here is what to look for on the ballot:


“Do you support an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Louisiana to provide that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and any restriction of that right requires the highest standard of review by a court?  (Amends Article I, Section 11)”

 

Riser's Revision

The original language of the State provision guaranteeing the right to bear arms (which falls under Article I, Sec. 11 or the Constitution of the State of Louisiana) reads:

 

“The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.”

 

And the phrasing has remained that way since the current Constitution was enacted back in 1974. Changes to the current law were originally proposed in Senate Bill No. 303, which was introduced by Sen. Neil Riser (R-District 32). If it had been enacted as-is, the bill would have changed that original phrasing to the following:

 

“The right of each citizen to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms for defense of life and liberty, and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be denied or infringed, and any restriction shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

 

According to the adjoining documentation, the phrase, “strict scrutiny,” means that any attempts or possible attempts to violate this statute—as it reads in the proposed amendment—would be subject to judicial action and review to determine the constitutionality of the action.

 

That strict scrutiny would hold any new law to a higher standard, requiring, “a compelling government interest, being narrowly defined to achieve that intent,” according to Sen. Riser’s statements back in April, when the bill was being read for final passage in the Senate.


“The purpose of this would be to reinforce the Second Amendment [of the United States’ Constitution] and, in my opinion, make it that you would have the right, as an American, the right to bear and carry arms,” Riser said.

As the bill ran its course, the proposed legislation changed before various discussions, committee actions, and floor discussions once the bill made its way over to the house. By the time SB 303 got back to the Senate Floor for a final vote to be placed on this year’s ballot, it read a little different.

 

“The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”


For this final version, the major changes may appear to be simple turns of phrase, but these subtle differences would open the interpretation for restricting or permitting concealed weapons in any capacity. This is the main strike for many opponents, who have voiced concerns that this new wording would cause problems with previous legislation, which prevents carrying weapons on college campuses or other sensitive areas.


College gun issues?


While still in discussion on the Senate Floor, Sen. Dan Claitor (R-District 16) questioned how this vote would affect the ability to bear and carry arms in places where weapons are currently prohibited, or any of the other laws that exist on the books?


Riser did acknowledge there is legal precedent labeling “sensitive areas,” or places where there is a compelling need to restrict firearms, or a gun free zone: including schools and churches. But these must be narrowly defined and must hold up to that strict scrutiny.


“You need to be real clear, this defines how laws are judged,” Riser said. “We roughly have close to forty gun laws right now, and those gun laws will stay in effect. If they were to be challenged, it would be like they’d be challenged now... And you could pass as many gun laws in here as you want, but they would have to meet that [new] criteria.”


The Senator also said that this wording would not, “trump private property rights,” and that legal precedent has shown that Universities and other institutions maintain the right to limit possession of a gun on their grounds, given that it meets the strict scrutiny of the definition as a sensitive area.


Riser acknowledges that the new standard is more in favor of gun possession and all the other rights outlined in the bill, but that is the point.


“We’d have the strongest Second Amendment law in the nation if we passed this,” he said.


The fact that this favors the gun owner first, and could, albeit potentially, make it more difficult to pass a law—or even a private entities’ edict—that restricts weapons transfers, sales or any of the other defined rights, because the compelling interest must first be shown, causes pause for some. As indicated in committee and floor discussions, both the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association and the District Attorneys’ Association have expressed concerns during discussions.


However, as both the Senate and the House have passed the bill with the required two-thirds vote for amendments, the voters of Louisiana will make the final decision.

 

Happy voting!

 
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Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Elizabeth Davas, Ian Hoch, Lindsay Mack, Anna Gaca, Jason Raymond, Lee Matalone, Phil Yiannopoulos, Joe Shriner, Chris Staudinger, Chef Anthony Scanio, Tierney Monaghan, Stacy Coco, Rob Ingraham,

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