Most leaders have an agenda. Now is not the time. New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell is doing a great job protecting the city she runs from the spreading of the coronavirus. But she went too far when signing an emergency order last week giving her the power to suspend the sale and transporting of firearms.
“The emergency authority is hereby empowered, if necessary, to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transporting of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, or combustibles,” Cantrell’s proclamation of a state of emergency read in part.
As a Democrat, Cantrell likely and sincerely views the physical gun, not the dark heart of the person illegally pulling the trigger, as the main cause of violence in New Orleans. But unjustifiably shooting someone is already illegal. Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them. To “suspend or limit the sale or transporting of guns” only prevents law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.
The FBI reported background checks for people buying guns were up 300% on March 16 over the same day in 2019. Sure they are. These are trying times. We don’t know how bad things could get. It’s reasonable for a law-abiding citizen to want to have a legal firearm to protect their family and their home.
This is a time when we need to know our leaders are cautious and prudent when taking measures to limit our freedoms. Most of us are willing to give up some freedoms if it leads to saving lives by slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Taking away the ability to purchase or transport a firearm does nothing, nothing, to stop the spread of the virus. What it does do is shift the power balance decidedly in favor of the criminal as opposed to the law-abiding citizen if things get crazy.
Cantrell has shown steady, strong and consistent leadership in cracking down on the gathering of large crowds during the coronavirus crisis. But she should change the wording on her emergency order and remove limiting the sale and transporting of guns. The mayor should put aside her anti-gun agenda during this unprecedented time in history.
Here’s another example of pushing an agenda at a time when we should be focusing on limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Tony Spell pastors the Life Tabernacle Church in Central. On Tuesday, Spell defied the governor’s order to limit gatherings of more than 50 people and held service anyway. Many of the 300 plus attending were elderly. A group at high risk of severe complications if they catch the virus.
“I feel the COVID-19 scare is politically motivated,” Spell said in justifying his holding church Tuesday.
Spell says he will have service again Sunday where a crowd of 1,100 typically shows up. Central police have said if he does, they will break it up.
“We want to encourage other religious leaders in churches like us, do not let fear of persecution of any government official, any dictator law, prevent you from worshipping God, which our first amendment states you are not allowed to do in any form,” said Spell.
Most church leaders are doing the responsible thing and canceling services or streaming them online so congregants can watch from home.
Spell is right to worry about an anti-Christian agenda. There have been cases of Christian business owners closing as a result of heavy fines levied by local governments for not condoning gay lifestyles. San Antonio recently banned Chick-fil-A from opening in its airport for the chain’s supposed anti-LGBTQ behavior.
But Spell is not employing wisdom by fighting the cause of religious freedom while we’re facing such a great threat from the coronavirus. If anything, Spell’s endangering his parishioners and community in doing so.
The only agenda all of us should be focusing on now is doing what we can to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Staying home when possible, washing our hands, not touching our faces, and wiping down surfaces. Being kind to each other would also help. We’re all a bit stressed right now. Let’s put our political agendas aside for now and focus on fighting the coronavirus.
Email Dan Fagan at Faganshow@gmail.com Twitter: @DanFaganShow.