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Louisiana Ballot Measure Could Mean More Guns on Campuses, Professor Says

A proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in Louisiana on November 6 may make it even tougher to regulate guns in a state with some of the least restrictive gun-control laws in the country. Now Dayne Sherman, an assistant professor of library sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University, suggests in an op-ed piece in the Hammond, La., Daily Star that the amendment, if approved, could pave the way for courts to strike down laws restricting concealed weapons on college campuses, school grounds, and other public sites.

The amendment would remove language from the Louisiana Constitution that gives the state’s Legislature the explicit authority to pass laws restricting the right to carry a concealed weapon (though the removal would not take away the Legislature’s right to pass such laws). It would also add language that calls the right to keep and bear arms a fundamental one, and says that any restriction must pass a “strict scrutiny” judicial review.

Mr. Sherman writes:

What does this amendment do?

It allows all Louisiana gun laws to come under the “strict scrutiny” doctrine. For example, let’s say a Southeastern Louisiana University student decides he wants to carry his Glock to class, which is currently illegal, and he gets the National Rifle Association or some other group to file suit on his behalf for free. Well, if a state judge says the campus policy is a violation of Amendment No. 2, the policy is struck down.

Please recall that the Legislature has been unable to pass a “guns on campus” bill. But if a judge is willing to rule in a plaintiff’s favor, guns will be allowed on campuses from Nunez Community College in Chalmette to LSU-Shreveport. What could not pass in the light may pass in the darkness.

E. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorney Association, said “nobody knows” what the effect of the change in the Constitution would be until it’s litigated. He remarked that “in the age of advocacy, yes, it might” lead courts to overturn laws prohibiting the concealed carrying of weapons on college campuses.

“The proponents say that that’s not likely, that it’s not a realistic scenario,” he said. “And those who oppose it say that it’s more realistic than the other side would have you believe.”

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