The National Rifle Association (NRA) is calling the passing of proposed constitutional amendment by the Louisiana Senate on Monday an important step in making Louisiana a state with some of the strongest Second Amendment protections in the nation.
Senate Bill 303 by Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in a 31-6 vote and will be transferred to the House for debate.
NRA officials say they have been following the push for additional gun rights protection in Louisiana and in other states and are happy that progress is being made.
“This is a bill that we strongly support that will strengthen Louisiana’s Constitutional gun provisions that will provide a critical defense for future efforts to infringe on citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms,” said NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford.
Language in the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 mirrors the Second Amendment right for a citizen “to keep and bear arms,” in the federal Constitution.
Riser said that his amendment would add an extra buffer to protect gun rights in Louisiana.
“In layman’s terms, it puts the burden on the government instead of on the public for the restriction of gun rights. The government would have to specify a compelling intent to say you cannot have firearms in a particular location with narrowly tailored language,” Riser said.
“I know that the people are behind this. I was home for Easter and they told me ‘you are right, you are damn right,'” Riser added.
Samford points to two recent landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Cout, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), in which the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms were upheld.
She said the gun rights bill working its way through the Louisiana Legislature would make it harder for firearm ownership to be infringed upon in the state should these Supreme Court decisions ever be overruled.
“It would further define the right to keep and bear arms as more than the right to own a handgun as it was defined in Heller,” Samford said. “It would make some future judicial abuse to nullify Second Amendment rights in Louisiana less likely.”
If Riser’s bill is passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, it must be approved by voters in the Nov. 6 election to be added to the state constitution.