By The Town Talk/Alexandria, La.
ALEXANDRIA, La. —
Guns and gun laws are in the news, as they should be, but the discussion once again is at the shrill extremes, with wannabe soldiers of fortune and dyed-in-the-wool disarmers sighting in on each other.
This is not where the discussion should be, as the vast majority of Americans will tell you. This national conversation belongs in the middle, with Middle America, and it should focus on personal safety, common sense and freedom to choose.
The Town Talk firmly supports the right to bear arms, a fundamental right that is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and is supported by Supreme Court decisions.
The Town Talk also firmly supports this fact of life: Gun ownership requires a certain level of public oversight and a tremendous amount of personal responsibility. We need the former because not everyone has enough of the latter, by circumstance or by choice.
It is there that we believe Louisiana has room to improve. The state’s rich hunting culture and deep traditions related to the use of firearms are steeped in oversight and responsibility, by way of families, but the state’s laws do not square with that.
An important benchmark shows that Louisiana’s gun laws are among the nation’s weakest. The 2011 analysis by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence gives the Pelican State just 2 points out of a possible 100. The only states scoring lower than Louisiana were Alaska, Arizona and Utah.
Granted, the Brady Campaign has its roots in Handgun Control Inc., whose goal when it was started in the 1970s was to make it illegal to own handguns and ammunition. But this is not the mission of the Brady Campaign. Under namesake James S. Brady — who was shot during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and is permanently paralyzed — the organization works to make the nation safer without such a ban.
The organization’s annual review analyzes state gun laws in ways that assess many of the pragmatic problems related to gun violence. For example, it looks for laws they relate to background checks on gun sales, permit-to-purchase requirements, limiting handgun purchases to one a month and retention of sales records for purposes of tracing weapons used to commit crimes.
These are statutory areas in which Louisiana and other states can and should make changes — common-sense changes that will mirror the kind of oversight and personal responsibility that Louisiana families practice in their own homes.