Regarding “Gun control ideas likely won’t fly in La.,” by Dennis Persica:

Instead of simply parroting feel-good slogans like “reasonable gun control measures,” perhaps Persica should question and investigate how strictly (or not) the Orleans Parish DA enforces the many existing gun laws he has at his disposal. Mr. Cannizzaro laments that he has tried many times to get laws passed that would at least make “incremental improvements in attacking gun violence.” Of course, as we all know, most all of the proposed laws have little to no effect on violent gun criminals, but do curtail the rights and protections of law-abiding gun owners.

What about laws that directly affect the criminal misuse of firearms? Cannizzaro is the DA for Orleans Parish, which has the highest murder and violent crime rate in the state and is one of the highest in the nation. A majority of these violent gun criminals are repeat offenders. How can that be?

Since 1988, Louisiana has on the books an enhanced penalty statute for those who commit felonies and even certain misdemeanors wherein a firearm was possessed, used or discharged. It is a statute that directly affects criminals and in no way infringes upon the law-abiding.

LA CCRP 893.3 provides for mandatory minimum sentences to be added onto the sentence for the particular crime committed while in possession, use or discharge of a firearm. These additional sentences are to be served without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The sentencing increases based on possession, use and discharge, respectively. Yes, there is a law that has real teeth to be used against criminals who misuse firearms. For example, if the criminal commits a “violent felony” and discharges a firearm in the process, he can be given an additional minimum term of 20 years. Sentences for the enumerated lesser crimes carry shorter sentences, but still maintain the minimum sentencing provisions and the no parole, suspension or probation provision.

These are sentences in addition to what is to be imposed for the same crime when no firearm was involved.

So, how often does the good DA enforce this statute? Please ask him to provide statistics to let the public know how serious he is at curbing gun crime. Show us how many times he has used this statute against gun criminals to have their sentences enhanced. Show us how the Orleans Criminal Court judges are strictly enforcing this statute. Show us actual cases and the sentences imposed. Show us how strongly the DA believes in criminal gun control.

While we’re at it, get him to provide statistics on how many cases involving firearms has his office refused, dropped or pleaded down.

I’m pretty certain that if this statute was being strictly enforced, we would not be seeing repeat gun criminals roaming the streets of New Orleans to continue their gun crimes. Section 893.3 is what law-abiding gun owners consider “reasonable gun control measures.”

Chris Holmes

writer

Chalmette