In the name of gun rights, a ridiculous measure was launched in the Legislature, overriding the pastor and congregation of any church and forcing it to allow firearms in places of worship.
Another bill would, without regard to local views or conditions, overrule decisions by cities or parishes on sensible gun control regulations. Yet another bill would not allow authorities to regulate firearms during a state of emergency.
Extremism is on the march, in a Legislature that has vastly more important things to do.
What are these bills doing even being heard in committee in a session during which the state is struggling with a pandemic of a deadly disease? Great question.
What is happening is that bills that previously failed in years past are being slipped through while the public is not paying attention.
People in real life have serious distractions in their lives. Attendance to the State Capitol is sharply limited because of the coronavirus danger. The hordes of people who’d ordinarily be stalking the halls to kill dangerous bills — snakes, in common legislative parlance — are no longer in evidence.
The snakes are sliding through and should be stomped on by more responsible members of House and Senate.
Further, the Legislature’s main duty is to deal with a budget, and that is very difficult while revenues are falling and businesses are hurting. It’s a serious mark against new House Speaker Clay Shexnayder, R-Gonzales, and Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, that these other bills are condoned in what should be a short session devoted to the pandemic emergency.
We particularly note that many churches — not to mention local governments, like parish and city councils — don’t want their authority to regulate their own affairs taken away.
A previous compromise to meet the demands of pro-gun lobbyists was to allow congregations to decide whether weapons would be allowed in their services.
Will Hall, of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, helped create the existing law. He said most congregations he represents cannot afford paid armed guards, so they rely on volunteer armed security teams made up of congregants. Hall argued that those congregations, not the government, should decide who can and can't carry concealed weapons on church property.
We think it’s nutty for anyone to carry a gun into a house of God, but obviously some people want to. That’s not a good reason to take decisions away from the congregants themselves.
Further, even large congregations have been hurt by the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The smallest should not be burdened by what is essentially a new and costly mandate, that they hire an off-duty deputy or other security folks to protect worshippers.
Is the new Legislature, acting in the shadow of the coronavirus, going to pass extremist bills that have often failed before? Looks like it, unless someone shoots the snakes.