The Louisiana Senate overwhelmingly rejected Tuesday legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons for those under age of 21.
New Orleans Democratic Sen. Troy Carter said the restriction is reasonable and necessary given the spate of recent mass shootings that killed dozens of people, such as the 58 murdered in Las Vegas in October and the 17 students and teachers shot to death at a Florida high school in February. In both incidents the shooters used legally purchased guns capable of firing a high volume of bullets with the squeeze of the trigger.
The Florida shooter was 18 years old when he legally purchased the assault rifle he used on former classmates.
“We need to do something to make our classrooms safer,” Carter told his colleagues and packed galleries of students and people wearing gun rights t-shirts.
State law already forbids the sale of assault weapons to 18 year olds. Senate Bill 274 would have made illegal the sale of assault weapons to people under the age of 21.
It's already illegal for people younger than 21 to purchase handguns from licensed dealers. Carter's bill would expand that age restriction to weapons specifically outlined in his legislation, including semi-automatic long rifles with fixed magazines that can take more than 10 rounds of ammunition and shotguns with revolving cylinder magazines or detachable magazines. Other types of weapons are also outlawed in the bill.
The Senate rejected the measure on a vote of 9 to 26.
Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, challenged Carter saying the ban wouldn’t solve the problems of mass shootings. Carter didn’t disagree.
“This is not the answer to it all," Carter said, adding it is a strong incremental step in the right direction.
Repeating that he was a supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Carter said the killings over the past few years requires people to start taking action. He likened his bill to increased airport security after the 9-11 attacks. Nobody likes taking off their shoes before boarding a plane, but a certain measure of self-policing is necessary, he said.
Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville, said underage soldiers could return home from overseas combat, where they carried assault weapons daily, and be unable to buy one in their home town.
Carter said they wouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol either.
He said the legislation would not inhibit the sales of hunting weapons and shotguns.
After 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz' attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, Florida passed a similar under-21 gun purchasing ban as part of a more sweeping gun overhaul effort. The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the measure. Delaware, Oregon and Ohio legislatures are considering similar measures.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
National retail chains, including Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods, have announced that they will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21, following the shooting in Florida. And President Donald Trump has voiced his support on Twitter for raising the minimum age to purchase assault weapons to 21 on the federal level.
Voting for banning the sale of assault weapons to people under the age of 21 (9): Sens Barrow, Bishop, Boudreaux, Carter, Luneau, Martiny, Peterson, Price and Tarver.
Voting Against SB274 (26): President Alario and Sens Allain, Chabert, Claitor, Cortez, Donahue, Erdey, Fannin, Gatti, Hewitt, Johns, Lambert, Long, Milkovich, Mills, Mizell, Morrish, Peacock, Perry, Riser, G. Smith, J. Smith, Thompson, Walsworth, Ward and White.
Not Voting (4): Sens. Appel, Colomb, LaFleur and Morrell.