Louisiana Lawmakers Defer Bill Creating New Orleans Carveout to Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Lawmakers in Baton Rouge haven't officially killed a bill that would have created several new exemptions to the state's new Constitutional Carry law, but on Wednesday the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice did place the bill in a legislative limbo by deferring action indefinitely. 


I would have preferred to see the bill voted down instead of being shunted off to the side, but either way, it appears that the Republican majority won't be giving to the demands of Crescent City officials. 

New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno told state lawmakers that Sunday's mass shooting that killed one woman and wounded eleven other people in the Warehouse District is why there need to be areas in the city where people can not legally carry guns.

"We are very concerned that if we don't put in some type of exemption like this, we would have even more situations like this happening.  So, we need something to be able to give law enforcement as many tools as possible."

State Representative Bryan Fotenot sighted NOPD stats in countering her argument.

"Forbidding honest, law-abiding citizens from carrying a firearm isn't helping your problem.  Your own data shows your got tons of homicides in firearm-free zones.  Adding another firearm-free zone, that I think infringes on my Second Amendment rights... the data just doesn't support that."

Fontenot is right. First of all, police haven't made any arrests in the Warehouse District shooting, but I'd be willing to bet that if and when they do charge one or more suspects we'll learn that they were not lawfully possessing a firearm when the shooting took place. 


Turning the French Quarter (or the entire city of New Orleans, as the police commissioner has suggested) into a "gun-free zone" just isn't feasible, from either a constitutional or common sense perspective. While the French Quarter may be home to a wide variety of businesses and millions of visitors every year, there are plenty of New Orleanians who call the Quarter home. If they can't set foot outside their residence without violating the "no guns allowed" policy the city wants to put in place, then they won't be able to carry anywhere, even in those places that remain open to lawful carry. 

NOPD Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick has also complained that once Constitutional Carry takes effect officers won't be able to stop and search passerby if they believe their carrying a firearm. That may be true (although cops in the 28 other Constitutional Carry states are still making plenty of arrests for illegally carrying a gun), but so what? We have a right to carry, and the mere presence of a firearm shouldn't be seen as evidence that a crime is being committed. The Constitution exists for a reason, and it's not to make the job of law enforcement as easy as possible. The entire Bill of Rights is designed as guardrails against government abuse of our individual liberties, and it places numerous restrictions on law enforcement activity; not by accident, but intentionally so. 


As I said yesterday, the best thing that New Orleans officials could do to improve public safety in the city is to increase the number of officers on the streets, not crack down on the number of armed citizens. NOPD is short more than 500 uniformed positions at the moment, which is all the more reason why New Orleans residents and visitors should be able to carry for their personal safety. Kirkpatrick should be directing her officers to focus their efforts on the most violent and prolific offenders. Enforcing more nonsensical "gun-free zones" is a waste of time and resources, and hopefully the Louisiana legislature will keep that option off the table despite the anti-gun outcry from city leaders.   

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