I am NRA's lobbyist in Louisiana and worked on the proposed Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment. We 100% support this historical amendment -- in fact it will provide Louisiana the strongest protections nationwide. The following is a brief overview of the amendment:
Restore the Second Amendment in Louisiana – Vote “YES” on 2!!
The proposed 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 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 than that.
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 but the police may have a gun,” 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
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, rending 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).
· The requirement of only a "legitimate" state purpose, and no specified degree of "fit" between the restriction and that purpose, basically subjects restrictions of the right to keep and bear arms under the Louisiana Constitution to rational basis scrutiny. See United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938).
· During the Heller case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted:
Obviously, [rational basis scrutiny] could not be used to evaluate the extent to which a legislature may regulate a specific, enumerated right, be it the freedom of speech, the guarantee against double jeopardy, the right to counsel, or the right to keep and bear arms. * * * If all that was required to overcome the right to keep and bear arms was a rational basis, the Second Amendment would be redundant with the separate constitutional prohibitions on irrational laws, and would have no effect.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 628 fn. 27 (2008). As Justice Scalia notes, "almost all laws ... would pass rational-basis scrutiny." Id.
· Additionally, the current provision expressly allows the 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 or under specific threat of harm.
· Further, the passage of an outright ban on law-abiding Louisianans carrying a concealed firearm would not likely be deemed unconstitutional based on the current state-level provision.
What are the levels of judicial review?
· There are three levels of review that a court uses to determine constitutionality of a federal or state statute: rational basis (lowest level of review), intermediate review, or strict scrutiny (highest level of review).
· Rational Basis is the lowest standard of review. This level of review is used when the statute does not involve a fundamental right – a reason why Louisiana’s current provision is inadequate.
· Strict Scrutiny is the highest standard courts use to evaluate restrictions on constitutional rights such as free speech. It requires that, such laws must be narrowly tailored, not broad and sweeping, and that they serve a compelling – not just a convenient – state interest.
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 level of review (the lowest level of review) – virtually any rights-infringing law can pass this level of review.
· Because the proposed provision 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 – strict scrutiny
Should you have any additional questions or if you would like to get involved with the campaign or receive campaign-related materials, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week!!