New Orleans Democrat Uses Bourbon Street Shooting to Slam Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

Ever since Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signed a Constitutional Carry bill into law back in March, opponents have been claiming that the new provision is going to make the state a more dangerous place. A number of New Orleans officials, including its mayor and police commissioner, have even lobbied for the state to create a carveout in the permitless carry law that would turn the French Quarter and the downtown area into a "gun-free zone", though they've been unsuccessful. 


Now one of the staunchest opponents of Constitutional Carry in the Louisiana House is pointing to the murder of a tourist on Bourbon Street as proof the new law is a bad idea.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to are concerned, if not afraid, of this new legislation,” said State Representative Alonso Knox (D-New Orleans). “Law enforcement and residents alike agree. Guns, alcohol, and large crowds just simply do not mix.”

On Monday, New Orleans police announced the arrests of two women in connection to the fatal shooting of Christopher Oatts Jr, who was visiting from Florida.

Officers were called to the 600 block of Bourbon St. around 4 a.m. Saturday (June 22), where they found Oatts with a gunshot wound to his body and rushed him to the hospital. He died there a few hours later.

Mia Lindsey, 22, and Mariah Campbell, 26, are in custody in Marion County, Mississippi, and will be sent back to Orleans Parish to face charges.

One major problem with Knox's argument is that the Constitutional Carry law is not yet in effect, which means a permit to carry is currently required in order to bear arms on Bourbon Street. If the current law didn't prevent the shooting from taking place, what makes Knox think that turning broad swathes of the city into a "gun-free zone" is going to make a difference? 


Another issue with Knox's attempt to make most of New Orleans a sensitive place is that the French Quarter and downtown business district aren't really "sensitive" at all. You don't pass through metal detectors or security gates when entering these neighborhoods, which are also home to plenty of New Orleans residents. How could the city enforce a "gun-free zone" if it meant disarming the very folks who live, work, and recreate there? 

Those questions don't seem to concern Knox much, if at all. Instead, he's convinced that banning the lawful carrying of firearms is the right approach. 

Rep. Knox says the new concealed carry law will make the French Quarter more dangerous. He says that is not the message we should be sending to our visitors.

“More importantly, this is not the message we want to send to everyday New Orleans,” Knox said.

Earlier this year, Knox asked lawmakers to carve out the French Quarter, Downtown Development District, and Convention Center from the new concealed carry law, but it didn’t make it out of committee.

But what Knox calls a “watered down version” of his bill made it to the governor’s desk. Knox collaborated with Republican State Senator Kirk Talbot to allow officers to stop and frisk a concealed carrier if they suspect they are under the influence. 

It takes effect July 4, as well.

The penalties for bad actors are worse in the French Quarter. Offenders face a fine between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail if found guilty of negligent concealed carry.

The National Rifle Association has come out in opposition of the law.


Knox and others are going to use every crime committed in the French Quarter as evidence of the failure of Constitutional Carry, completely ignoring the fact that violent crime is far from uncommon in the Quarter even under the current law. 

Are there steps that could be taken to improve public safety without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of residents and visitors? Absolutely. The top priority for city should be increasing the budget for the police department so it can hire more officers. As of February, NOPD had fewer than 900 uniformed officers, about 500 fewer positions than needed. Even if Knox wants to turn much of New Orleans into a "gun-free zone" he still needs that law to be enforced. Right now there aren't enough officers on the job to adequately respond to serious crime, much less engage in massive amounts of stop-and-frisks in the French Quarter in the hopes of discovering someone illegally carrying a gun.

New Orleans is a beautiful city, but it's never been known for being crime-free. Constitutional Carry isn't the problem, given that it's not yet even in effect. Like every other city in the U.S., a small portion of the city's population is responsible for a large number of violent crimes. If the city is going to get a handle on the violence, it needs to focus its efforts on arresting and prosecuting those prolific offenders before they can do more damage... not criminalizing a fundamental constitutional right.  


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