A north Louisiana legislator who is a staunch advocate of gun ownership rights said Monday that now is the time for supporters of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms to “draw a line in the sand” amid renewed gun control efforts at the state and federal levels.

“We can’t take steps backward,” state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, told a Baton Rouge Press Club luncheon audience.

Thompson is the founder of “Defend Louisiana,” a new statewide campaignto defend gun ownership rights.

The initiative was launched in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 students and six teachers.

Thompson’s appearance at the Press Club came two weeks after Baton Rouge lawyer Lewis Unglesby addressed the same group and said assault weapons should be banned because they are dangerous and meant only to kill.

“To be for these weapons is stupid,” Unglesby told the group Feb. 4.

When asked about Unglesby’s remarks, Thompson replied, “He can keep his comments; I’m going to keep my guns.”

Thompson’s statewide campaign asks supporters to sign a pledge to “defend the right for law-abiding citizens to protect their families” and “work against attempts to restrict my right to keep and bear arms.”

The campaign held just one event so far, in north Louisiana, but already some 3,000 people have signed the pledge, he said.

“We can’t allow knee-jerk reactions criminalizing law-abiding citizens,” Thompson said.

He also is co-sponsor of legislation, to be considered in the regular session that opens April 8, that proposes to ban state enforcement of any new federal restrictions on semiautomatic firearms.

The bill, by state Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, was prefiled last month.

The Sandy Hook massacre sparked renewed gun control efforts by President Barack Obama. Among the potential federal initiatives are a ban on assault weapons and creation of a better national database to ensure that felons and the mentally ill cannot purchase guns.

Thompson said there must be “meaningful debate” about any proposed new federal gun restrictions, saying the mere fact that something emerges from Washington, D.C., “doesn’t mean it’s constitutional.”

“We’re not much for having things crammed down our throats from D.C.,” he said.

Thompson also said he does not favor limiting the number of bullets in a gun magazine.

“How many bullets do I want? One more than I need,” he said.

Thompson said he also supports having armed people in schools, and giving educators the ability to “take out” an armed threat.