In South Louisiana, we have the best quality of life in the country. With great food like gumbo and étouffee, zydeco music, festivals year round and beautiful weather, Louisiana is a wonderful place to live. I am proud to serve South Louisiana and represent our values on Capitol Hill.

One tradition Louisianans have participated in for generations is to embrace the “Sportsmen’s Paradise.” We hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors — this is truly a way of life in South Louisiana. An important part of our heritage is that we own and use firearms. Law-abiding citizens, under the protection afforded them by the Second Amendment of the Constitution, use guns safely and responsibly every day here at home. We treasure this right as one passed down by the Founding Fathers and we exercise it for sport or, if necessary, for self-defense.

However, sometimes Washington can become far-removed from the people it represents. The nation’s heart broke when it witnessed the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. We all agree something must be done to prevent this from happening in the future. But the recent proposals put forth by the president largely lack common sense. Why not instead propose increased screening and treatment for mentally ill individuals, and simply enforce the laws we already have on the books?

The actions of one mentally ill individual do not warrant an incursion upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding American citizens. This is a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, which specifically mandates that it “shall not be infringed.”

In addition, we know from experience that banning these weapons is simply bad policy. When a similar assault weapons ban was implemented in the 1990s, crime rates were not significantly affected — yet when it was allowed to expire in 2004, crime rates actually decreased. We should learn from history — and enact policies based on data and numbers, not on an ideological agenda or knee-jerk conclusions about firearms.

Thankfully, there is a broad coalition of conservative, common-sense people in Washington working with me to ensure that our law-abiding American citizens are protected under the Constitution. I am a proud and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. I have been and always will be pro-gun. I will not support, and will actively campaign against, any infringement upon these rights.

For me, this is a fight about the way of life in Louisiana protected by the Second Amendment. No one will fight harder than I will to ensure these traditions are continued. You sent me to Washington to represent our Louisiana values, and I intend to use every avenue in my power to do just that.

Charles W. Boustany Jr. , R-La.,

congressman, 3rd District