Proposed improvements to Article 1, Section 11 of the Louisiana Constitution, known as the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment, would amend the Louisiana Constitution to state: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” If Amendment 2 is accepted by the voters on November 6, Louisiana will have the strongest guarantee of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the nation.
The proposed amendment is needed now to restore our gun rights because Louisiana’s current state guarantee is defective. The present Louisiana Constitution says that the right to bear arms shall not be “abridged,” except that “this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit” carrying a concealed weapon. This wording is so faulty that it leaves open the possibility of regulation by the state of carrying concealed even in one’s own home. Further, the Louisiana Supreme Court has said that the right may be restricted if a majority in the legislature thinks it “reasonable” to do so. When it comes to rights, the standard for restrictions must be higher.
This proposed amendment reinforces Second Amendment rights, which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed (in McDonald v. Chicago) are “fundamental.” Restrictions on fundamental rights (e.g. right to free speech) are normally subject to what the courts call “strict scrutiny” – a standard that ensures the strongest possible protection for the right. In short, gun laws should focus on safeguarding a right and punishing criminals, not law-abiding citizens.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of our Second Amendment Rights by a narrow 5 to 4 margin. The four dissenting Justices claimed that individuals have no Second Amendment rights and that the government has the authority to ban guns – just as D.C. and Chicago had. The narrow margin by which our fundamental right was affirmed highlights the precarious situation that could be faced in the future if strong action is not taken now. If just one of the five Supreme Court Justices resigns or dies, the vote could go the other way. Further, courts nationwide have been trying to nullify the rulings, saying that Second Amendment rights are not fundamental, and that even if they are, restrictions are not subject to strict scrutiny, but instead are subject only to “intermediate scrutiny” or other tests where the right is “balanced” away. As a fully recognized fundamental right, the Second Amendment should receive protection as such.
Gun bans and harassment of gun owners routinely occur in places like New York City, New Jersey, and California. Do not think it can’t happen here. Remember in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when the New Orleans police declared that “no one will able to be armed, we will take all weapons” and launched an effort to confiscate guns from citizens in their own homes and businesses, leaving them at the mercy of criminals and looters? Despite a lawsuit, most victims never got their guns back. Nothing like that should ever happen again in Louisiana.
This proposed amendment will protect future generations from any legislative power grabs and rubber stamping by future courts that would erode and undermine our rights. Its language is historic, and it will send a message nationwide that Louisiana stands in the forefront of states that will not tolerate infringements on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is strict scrutiny?
- Strict scrutiny is the highest level of protection for a constitutional right.
- This level of protection is reserved for rights that are deemed “fundamental” (e.g. free speech and right to vote).
- For decades, anti-gun judges and lawyers have fought tirelessly against application of “strict scrutiny” to our fundamental Second Amendment rights.
Why is strict scrutiny used as the level of review?
- Louisiana’s current right to keep and bear arms provision is deemed to only deserve a “rational basis” or lowest standard of review – virtually any rights-infringing law can pass this level of review.
- Because the proposed amendment will protect a fundamental right and will expressly acknowledge the right as “fundamental,” it naturally follows that the protected right requires the highest level of protection.
Why is Louisiana’s current right to keep and bear arms amendment inadequate?
- Because the Louisiana courts have determined that the current right to arms provision deserves the lowest level of review, the provision provides less protection than the Second Amendment itself, rendering Louisiana's constitutional provision meaningless under Heller and McDonald.
- According to the Louisiana Supreme Court, "The State of Louisiana is entitled to restrict that right for legitimate state purposes, such as public health and safety. "State v. Blanchard, 776 So.2d 1165, 1168 (La. 2001).
- Almost any restriction is upheld by the courts under the “rational basis” standard.
- The Louisiana Constitution also expressly allows a future legislature to impose a ban on the carrying of weapons concealed on the person – even in one’s home or on one’s own property.
Will this protect Louisianans Right to Keep and Bear Arms?
- Yes. Louisiana is on the verge of passing a historic level of protection for the right to keep and bear arms.
- Ironically, the effort is now being opposed by a misinformed few who mistakenly believe the proposed amendment allows for more, not less, gun control.
- Make no mistake, the amendment would not only strengthen Louisiana’s current constitutional right to arms, it would provide the strongest protection of the right to keep and bear arms of any jurisdiction in the United States.
- Simply put, it is the highest standard of constitutional review available in the United States. Those who believe in the strongest possible protection for the right to arms should enthusiastically vote “Yes” in November.
How to Get Involved
1. Visit our "YES on 2" website at www.nraila.org/YESon2 for more information.
2. Become a "Fan" or “Like" "Vote YES on 2" (www.facebook.com/voteyeson2) on Facebook and encourage all your friends to do the same.
3.) Show your support by displaying a bumper sticker or yard sign. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-392-VOTE (8683) to get your bumper stickers and yard signs TODAY!!
4.) Write a letter to the editor for your local daily or weekly newspaper.
5.) Contact us for bumper stickers, yard signs, or brochures for your local community, gun shop, shooting range, hunting club, hunting store, or gun show.
6. Please encourage your friends, family, fellow gun owners, and hunters to join you in voting "YES on 2" on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
7. Contact NRA-ILA Grassroots to find out more ways to become involved! You can also call us at 1-800-392-VOTE (8683)