Gov. John Bel Edwards ran as a pro-gun Democrat back in 2015, and since taking office the Louisiana governor has shied away from calling for bans on “assault weapons” and other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Still, the governor showed voters this year that he’s not as much of a fan of the Second Amendment as he claimed when he vetoed a Constitutional Carry measure. What was originally a veto-proof majority in favor of the permitless carry bill turned into a narrow defeat for the measure in the state Senate, when two Republicans who’d originally voted in favor of the legislation flip-flopped in the veto override session.
Edwards may have hoped that the issue would die down once his veto had been sustained, but if so he was sorely mistaken. Instead, his veto has prompted at least two Louisiana parishes to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.
In the past week, both Grant and Rapides Parish have become what’s called a “sanctuary parish” for the second amendment, meaning the parish’s police juries have taken a stance to protect the right to bear arms.
Both of the local parishes decided to move forward with the designation in unanimous votes.
“We support the second amendment and we want our legislators and everyone in those lines and senators to also support our second amendment rights for our people up here,” said Don Arnold, the Grant Parish Police Jury President.
According to KALB-TV, there are now five Second Amendment sanctuaries in the state, though it’s unclear when the first three parishes took that step. Still, the station says with Grant and Rapides parishes signing on, others are likely to follow suit.
“As a sanctuary parish, we are taking a stand that we firmly believe in the second amendment rights and if some various laws were passed down, it gives us an opportunity to show our support for the second amendment right and to fight some of those laws,” said Rapides Parish Police Jury President Craig Smith.
I have no idea how many parishes will be Second Amendment sanctuaries by the time the legislature begins its next legislative session, but I doubt it’s only going to be these five. And the more the 2A sanctuary movement spreads across the state, the harder it’s going to be for lawmakers to avoid the issue next session.
Watching these developments got me thinking; while I’m glad to see that Smith and others in Rapides Parish are ready to fight the imposition of any new federal gun control laws, there are other steps that the five parishes (and really, every Second Amendment sanctuary) could take in the meantime to strengthen our Second Amendment rights. In fact, in many ways it sounds like some of these parishes have already started. Both Grant and Rapides have 4-H Shooting Sports programs already in place, for instance, which is fantastic. It also looks like Grant Parish is in the process of building a public range, which is another big step in the right direction.
It’s a relatively easy thing for a county board, city council, or a parish police jury to declare they’re a sanctuary for the Second Amendment, but it can also be an utterly meaningless declaration if there are no deeds to back up the thought. One of the simplest things that Second Amendment sanctuaries can do to demonstrate their seriousness is to actively promote safe and responsible gun ownership. Encourage citizens to exercise their rights, and offer them educational and training opportunities that will help them take their first steps into gun ownership. Bring 4-H Shooting Sports programs and the JROTC to local schools. Adopt pro-range zoning policies, and build public ranges whenever possible, while encouraging the development of commercial ranges as well.
A resolution defending the right to keep and bear arms is good. Making those words matter is even better.