BATON ROUGE, LA — State lawmakers say they will take a stand against anyone who wants to force gun control on Louisiana.
A couple dozen members of Defend Louisiana hosted a rally on the steps of the state capitol Monday afternoon. They talked about legislation to be discussed during the legislative session, but claimed the primary opponent of gun rights is President Obama.
"It's an important issue," said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), when asked why gun control is currently a popular subject in Washington. "I will also say the economy is an important issue, as well. I sometimes wonder if he's not focused on this to distract from the economy.
"Representative (Jeff) Thompson and others, and the governor, has really come out forcefully in favor of gun rights. But I think the potential erosion is going to occur on the national level."
"When you see the president of the United States, when you see mayors of other cities like New York and Chicago trying to dictate to us what we should do in Louisiana, I see the threat is very great," Thompson (R-Bossier City) agreed.
Eleven bills were introduced Monday that specifically deal with gun ownership, and at least six others tackle issues related to guns. One of them, HB 5, makes it illegal to enforce any new federal gun laws in Louisiana.
"Just because something comes out of Washington, doesn't mean it's correct," Rep. Thompson said.
People who went to support their politicians said they were glad to see so many involved.
"This is actually my first time really seeing a bunch of politicians out there that are agreeing with us and everything, and fighting for us," said Cody D'Amico of Baton Rouge.
"The loudest mouth usually is heard the best," stated Will Riddle of St. Francisville.
Some of the people at the rally were avid hunters; some placed large flags with revolutionary flags on their trucks; others consider guns a measure of last resort.
"I'm not a big 'gun nut,' as some people would say, but I'd rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it, that's all," D'Amico stated.
Thompson said Defend Louisiana wants to serve as a voice for each type of gun owner.
"We're gonna defend the right to protect our families and stand up for the heritage that is the 'sportsman's paradise' here in Louisiana," he said.
But at the same time, Riddle was disappointed in the size of the crowd, many of whom were legislative staffers or media members.
"I really think that there's a lot more people out there that believe the same way I do," he said, "that need to step up and have their voices heard."
The next goal of those in attendance is to make sure lawmakers in Baton Rouge and Washington continue to hear them tomorrow.
"It's easy to forget," Riddle said. "We have to keep coming back day after day, and week after week, and keep reminding them this is what the people want."
Other bills of note that were introduced for this legislative session would allow the creation of lifetime permits; require all firearms to be kept in locked containers, or governed by a safety device; or require any licensed gun owner to prove s/he had completed a safety course.