DA Cannizzaro targets gun rights measure - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

DA Cannizzaro targets gun rights measure

D.A. Leon Cannizzaro talks about his views during Thursday's news conference. D.A. Leon Cannizzaro talks about his views during Thursday's news conference.

New Orleans, La. -- Jason Gregory manages Gretna Gun Works. He has no doubts about how he will vote on one of the proposed amendments to the state constitution.

Constitutional Amendment 2 deals with gun rights in the state.

"I support Amendment 2 because it strengthens the state's Second Amendment rights," said Gregory, a supporter of strong gun rights.

But New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro believes passage of the measure would be a huge mistake.

"I do not believe that the proliferation of concealed weapons in this city will enhance public safety. Accordingly, I want to strongly encourage the voters of New Orleans to vote "No" on November 6th," said Cannizzaro at a Thursday news conference.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Soon Louisiana voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution regarding gun rights.

"This amendment will place in extreme constitutional jeopardy our present law that requires gun owners to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon," said Cannizzaro.

Some believe the current wording of the state constitution gives the legislature more flexibility in crafting gun laws.

"It says the state can regulate them by banning concealed weapons and by banning guns in certain places that are sensitive like hospitals, court houses.  That is the current constitution," said Loyola law professor Isabel Medina. Medina testified against the proposal before state lawmakers.

The proposed change to the state constitution would spell out in black and white that the right to keep and bear arms is "fundamental and shall not be infringed… Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny."

Cannizzaro said the constitution in its current state has not hampered crimefighting efforts.  "I want to insure that our law enforcement officials maintain the ability to arrest individuals who carry a concealed weapon on the streets of this city without a permit. I want to make sure that police maintain the ability to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys."

Gregory thinks linking the proposal to crime is a flawed approach.  "I say look at Chicago. You can't buy a gun in Chicago, so what's the issue with Chicago, is it the guns? And most of the folks that are committing these crimes are not supposed to have guns to begin with?" Gregory stated in response to Cannizzaro's argument.

Professor Medina believes, if the constitutional amendment is approved by voters statewide, it could have some unintended consequences and become a weapon for criminals in the judicial system.

"It will become a tool in the arsenal of criminal defense attorneys to challenge the constitutionality of the law under which they're indicted or arrested and potentially convicted."

''It's an attempt to expand gun rights beyond what's guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and we can't see any good reason to go there," said Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research.

But Gregory and others who support the proposed change said passage would provide an insurance policy of sorts, just in case gun rights in the U.S. Constitution are eroded.

"What this does is make sure, if the federal level tries to take away our Second Amendment rights they have to fight it at the highest court level, that's all it does," said Gregory.

We requested comment from the NRA for this story but no response was given.

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