by Mark Parham
As I watched the Louisiana House floor debate today on Sen. Riser’s SB 303, an amendment to our second amendment rights afforded us by the Louisiana Constitution, it became very apparent by the added amendments and opposition to the bill that our Black Caucus feels we would be better off unarmed. I’m including the finished version of SB303 with all amendments in the attempt to show very minor changes are actually going to take place should the voters approve this amendment. What really disturbed me most were the efforts by several Reps. to add language that would basically prevent the carrying, whether open or concealed, to any event where the public is invited. Thank goodness we have some folks in Baton Rouge with a little common sense. We already have numerous civil laws in place that regulate where weapons cannot be carried, schools, government buildings, churches, etc. are weapon free zones now. Why include language that could be so vaguely interpreted that you could very well be breaking the law if you carried your weapon to a garage sale. That Amendment fell by the wayside as it should have. I would feel much safer knowing I or someone else “where” armed in our church, but that’s just me.
Rep. Katrina Jackson D, Dist 16, Monroe, had the gall to stand a argue the legality of “Joe Bob”, yes I said Joe Bob, being armed in her church and asking him to leave then having to answer to a judge for her or her Pastors actions. One can only assume “Joe Bob” didn’t belong in her congregation in the first place and to use this type of example was purely out of line. Louisiana law clearly outlines the four W’s when it comes to concealed weapons. And let’s not forget, Louisiana is an open carry state by statute yet provisions are standing in regards to the W’s.
What this new amendment will do for the gun owner, if voted in by the electorate in November, is add more protection to our God given right to keep and bear arms; to provide that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right; to provide for a strict scrutiny standard of review by the court. The entire debate was over the provision for strict scrutiny standards of a review by the court system if ever needed, to protect the gun owners, not those that feel threatened by the owner, yet it will provide an avenue for either side if questioned. This scrutiny is most needed at this time in not only Louisiana but our entire nation. Just as we cannot legislate morality, neither can we expect our Representatives to legislate a safe living environment no matter how much they believe they can. The bottom line is, as the old saying goes; It’s better to have protection and never need it, than to need it and not have it.
I supported SB 303 from the start and look forward to voting for it in November, but that’s just me.