Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gun bill loaded by a gallery of rogues

Another bad bill on the Bayou

Dayne Sherman
March 23, 2014
Column / 675 words
I am rarely surprised by the antics of the Louisiana Legislature. This session is by no means an exception.
There is a bill banning the personal ownership of various snakes. Then there are numerous bills related to the Common Core, an education curriculum that is not well thought out and is backed by vulture capitalists. I wonder how many of the legislators now up in arms about the Common Core can read their own legislation? Probably few.
Locally, we have our own Bad Bill on the Bayou, Rep. Chris Broadwater's HB244. It allows colleges and universities to “lease of property... to nonprofit corporations or associations to hold fundraisers that include the auctioning and sale of firearms.”
In other words, selling guns on campus.
The bill rolled through the House with 90 yes votes and only two souls had enough guts to say no. In some ways, I respect both yes and no votes, but there was a large peanut gallery of absent votes, often a way to avoid being held accountable for taking a stance.
All of our nearby representatives were on board. What a shame.
The bill is currently pending Senate referral next week. So it goes from one rogues' gallery to the next with hardly a hiccup in the process.
Part of the pretense for the law is to raise money for cash-strapped institutions. Louisiana is ranked number one in America for cuts to higher education. With Gov. Jindal's heart set on destroying Louisiana colleges and universities, cutting funding by 80 % with his lapdog legislators doing whatever he desires, there is no doubt that campuses will either receive lower funding during the next fiscal year or stay just as bad off as before.
An exasperated university faculty member wanted to know what's next? An escort service (prostitution) coordinated by college campuses to raise funds?
Please, supporters and friends of “sinatorDavid Vitter, don't answer the question.
Even Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster is shilling for the gun bill. Really, Mayor? Is that the legacy you want to leave for your three lackluster terms in office?
The real question is not why a Republican or a Democrat files foolish bills. If a voter does not understand the bill writing process, I will explain it in one sentence: A special interest group corrals a “bill mule” to carry the legislation they have written or want written, usually with promises of donations, and the legislator, or “bill mule,” files the bill and carries it through the legislative process.
No, the real question is how citizens should respond?
To start, they should think through the implications of bills and what they do long term. I believe HB 244 will lead to college campuses without gun restrictions.
In the case of Rep. Broadwater's bill, how will parents of K-8 students at the Southeastern Louisiana University Lab School feel about guns being auctioned inside the Kiva, a nice sized room for a gun auction if there ever was one? Will they want their children seeing gun dealers and cops packing assault rifles to be auctioned on campus?
How will college faculty, staff, and students react when they learn that their formerly Firearm Free Zones are no longer that at all? Will they rally statewide to fight the bill?
When it comes to active civic engagement by Louisiana citizens, there are more absentee votes than anything else.
I am a hunter. I love to hunt and would rather be hunting or fishing than writing a column on a bad bill. I just wish we could bring a little common sense to gun legislation. Unfortunately, I am not expecting common sense to rule as long as special interest groups often outside of Louisiana own the legislative process.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is


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