In the wake of recent mass shootings — both here and in other states — Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Jr. wants the National Rifle Association to work with him to come up with “reasonable gun control measures” to present to the Legislature next year.
Well, good luck with that, counselor.
Louisiana may have elected a Democratic governor last month, but it’s not like the state is about to go all loosey-goosey liberal once John Bel Edwards is sworn in. Republicans still hold majorities in the Legislature, and they aren’t likely to veer far from the path followed by their national counterparts.
Last week, just days after a couple with jihadist sympathies shot and killed 14 people using weapons they purchased legally, the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate took a strange vote. They said that people who are not allowed to get on airplanes because of suspected terrorist ties should still be allowed to buy guns.
Granted, the argument was cast in terms of the faults of the no-fly list, which innocent people have wound up on when they shouldn’t have. But there have been complaints about that list for years, and Republicans haven’t seemed to care much about them. (For that matter, neither have Democrats, apparently, since nothing was done about the list’s inadequacies when they had enough congressional clout to remedy them.)
But if there are problems with the no-fly list, you’d think efforts would be directed at perfecting the list, rather than letting people who are on the list buy guns. Here’s an analogy: Sometimes police officers haul in the wrong person, but nobody is suggesting police should stop making arrests because of that.
During the campaign, Edwards made his love for the Second Amendment clear. Given that and Republican preponderance in the Legislature, new gun regulations seem unlikely.
Cannizzaro said he often travels to the state Capitol to support legislation he thought “could make incremental improvements” in attacking gun violence. “The National Rifle Association has, more often than not, opposed such legislation,” he said.
The district attorney said he is “unwilling to simply throw up my hands in despair” and give up. Before he makes another visit to legislators next year, Cannizzaro said, he’s “inviting the NRA to propose what they believe are reasonable gun control measures that will reduce this wanton violence to which Americans have grown far too familiar.”
But there’s no reason to think the NRA considers any gun measures as “reasonable.” After the Sandy Hook school shooting, which took the lives of 20 children, a few jurisdictions tightened their gun laws. But many other states loosened them, and there’s a growing call to just let people strap on weapons and take them wherever they want.
When Colorado tightened gun regulations in 2013 after the horrendous Aurora theater shooting, two lawmakers were removed from office in recall votes. A third resigned from the state Senate to avoid facing her own recall election.
All three might take solace in the fact that they were cut down while doing the Lord’s work, assuming the Lord still wants to see weapons beaten into plowshares. But their fates show the danger of stirring the gun-rights hornets nest, a lesson I’m sure is not lost on Louisiana lawmakers.
Meanwhile, after the recent shootings, gun sales are off the charts. People either feel the need for more guns to protect themselves, or they fear that the reaction to the latest shootings will make it harder to buy guns in the future.
Either way, that doesn’t bode well for the “reasonable” gun measures Cannizzaro said he wants to see adopted.
Dennis Persica’s email address is email@example.com.