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Representative Terry Landry: Just say ‘No’ to Amendment 2

TerryLandryPhotowIDFor better or worse, Louisiana voters are regularly asked to amend the state constitution. On November 6th voters will be asked to amend the constitution in a way that I believe would tip the balance in our state in favor of those who would eliminate all restrictions on gun ownership, create new threats to public safety, and potentially give new legal tools to those who use guns in the commission of other crimes.

Amendment 2 would change the Louisiana Constitution in two significant ways. First, it would dictate to our state judges the kind of of legal standard against which to measure the constitutionality of any law affecting where citizens can bring guns. Second, it would delete from the state constitution the Legislature’s power to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.

I believe Amendment 2 would take Louisiana in the wrong direction on a matter that has direct impact on public safety. I speak as a gun owner and a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution that protects our rights of gun ownership. I also speak as a 30-year veteran of the Louisiana State Police, as well as a former director of security at Louis Armstrong Airport and at Southern University.

Dem-voicesI have been around guns all my life. I used them in the Army. I used them as part of my work as a state trooper. I keep a gun at home. As a retired state police officer, I’m entitled to carry a gun in my vehicle.

Louisiana is generally recognized as having among the least restrictive gun laws in the country. Louisiana is an “open carry” state, which means most citizens who are legally allowed to own a gun may carry that gun openly without a permit in most public places. So, if the current constitutional framework has worked to make Louisiana such a permissive state when it comes to gun ownership and rights, my question to proponents is why is there any need to change this?

I don’t believe that this amendment is the result of an outcry from Louisiana citizens for its introduction, nor its passage. This legislation is the product of the vivid — some would say paranoid — imagination of the National Rifle Association and its allies. It has nothing to do with Louisiana but everything about a national agenda the NRA is pushing that advances the interests of its staunches supporters — gun manufacturers.

This proposed amendment will not make our homes more secure, our streets safer, nor bring our crime rates down. In fact, it will likely work against all of those.

Instead, it will likely clog our courts with new challenges to convictions and sentences by those accused of using guns in the commissions of crimes. Under this amendment, they will use the state constitution as a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card by maintaining that existing gun laws do not meet the new standard for judicial review that this amendment would establish.

During the hearings on this bill, I asked the chief proponent of this bill if there was any limit to where he wanted people to be able to carry guns. He said he wanted no limits that he wanted them everywhere.

That comment makes me shudder every time I think of it.

Under this amendment, the Legislature could loosen restrictions on concealed carry laws but it would be hard pressed to tighten them. What would be the proponents next step, if this amendment passes? To allow fans to bring guns into, say, Tiger Stadium after an afternoon of tailgating?

We have ample evidence that the current balance in the law has tipped in favor of those who want unrestricted access to guns and ammunition. We are reminded of this every few months by some horrific story of mass shootings from around the country. These shootings are carried out by people with mental problems, grudges against society, or because for a few minutes it gives them a feeling of power. Our current laws afford these people access to guns.

Amendment 2 would tip things even further out of balance. Louisiana has fresh evidence of that with the recent shootings of deputies in St. John the Baptist Parish. Amendment 2 is an extra step in the wrong direction.

I’m voting ‘No’ on Amendment 2. I hope you’ll consider doing so as well.

(Terry Landry, Sr., is a native of New Iberia who lives in Lafayette. He represents House District 96 in the Louisiana Legislature. He is a retired Louisiana State Trooper and served as the Commander of the Louisiana State Police in the administration of Governor Mike Foster.)

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Originally published: Oct 10, 2012