A fundamental right
This November, I am proud to join the National Rifle Association in support of Amendment 2 to the Louisiana Constitution to protect the gun rights of law abiding citizens, let me tell you why.
Here in Louisiana, we love our sportsmen's paradise, we love our culture, and we love our freedom. But, years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could restrict the gun rights of law abiding citizens.
We saw it after Katrina. Folks were in their homes with no electricity, no power, no 911 service, and reports of looters going door to door. That's a time when our families need the right to defend ourselves.
But, instead of protecting freedom, government officials went door to door, confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens.
We just can't let that happen again. It's time we protected freedom. It's time we protected gun rights. It's time we passed Amendment 2 to our Constitution, so that we have an ironclad guarantee of freedom here in Louisiana.
Simply put, this amendment to Louisiana's constitution acknowledges the fundamental right to keep and bear arms for legitimate purposes and it requires any restriction on gun ownership be subject to strict scrutiny.
It's our own Second Amendment, if you will, a new constitutional provision to repair the damage done by past judicial interpretations. You see, over the years, Louisiana courts have applied a "rational basis" legal standard to interpreting our right to bear arms. In reality, that means that the state has almost unlimited authority to confiscate, prohibit, or infringe on this fundamental right. Make no mistake, I have no intention of allowing such a bill to leave my desk without a veto, but our liberties should not be held hostage to whims of future legislators and governors. By applying the "strict scrutiny" test, we elevate the protections in our constitution to the same level we provide our right to free speech.
Now I know what you're thinking – the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already provides for the right to bear arms – so why do we need an amendment to our state constitution?
Our Second Amendment rights at the federal level hang in the balance. In 2008, the United States Supreme Court confirmed that the District of Columbia's ban on the possession of handguns was unconstitutional. It was a victory for gun owners across the country, but the decision hinged on a single justice. If just one justice in the majority flipped his vote, it would have dealt a significant blow to our freedoms. With our rights in such near peril at the federal level, it is vital that Louisiana recognizes the right to bear arms as essential to our liberty.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when government officials went door-to-door, confiscating firearms, they targeted law-abiding citizens, mothers and fathers who wanted nothing more than the ability to defend themselves.
I was honored to push through Congress a federal law preventing the unlawful seizure of citizen's firearms during times of national emergencies, but this example speaks to the larger point. When elected officials are allowed to infringe on our right to bear arms, simply because they believe they have a "legitimate purpose," it puts our rights in jeopardy.
By adopting this constitutional amendment, we will significantly strengthen the rights of our citizens to keep and bear arms, and send a strong message to our elected leaders that our state is serious about freedom.
This amendment is supported by the National Rifle Association and the Louisiana Shooting Association. It received the two-thirds vote necessary in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Louisiana State Senate. On November 6th I hope you'll join me in supporting Louisiana's own Second Amendment by voting YES on Constitutional Amendment #2.
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