Lawmakers take aim
With the deadline looming to pre-file bills for the upcoming legislative session, Rep. Gene Reynolds, Dist. 10, said he is aware of some bills that will take aim at guns on school campuses for safety reasons.
"Nobody in the state of Louisiana is going to vote to ban guns," Reynolds said. "However, there will be several bills filed about guns in schools. The main debate is: do we arm principals and people at schools or don't we?"
Reynolds said he has heard both sides.
"Some people are very much against that, and I understand their point," he said. "I personally wouldn't have a problem with that as long as the people were highly qualified as far as handling a gun. They would have to go through training."
Arming school personnel fixes the immediate problem of "shooter on campus," he pointed out.
"But if you really want to do away with these incidences, you go back and start identifying kids with problems at a very young age," he said. "The shooter, when he goes on campus and shoots somebody, is the end product of a long period of time where a kid has had a lot of time to fester. He doesn't just wake up one morning and decide he's going to go to the school and shoot somebody. It's a long time in coming."
Reynolds said he would like to see more counselors in schools.
"What we need to do a really good job on is identifying these kids and addressing these psychological problems with counselors ... professional people ... even if we have to bring them in," he said. "Don't wait until they shoot somebody. Watch for warning signals – dropping grades, not attending class – things they can identify early."
According to the Louisiana Legislature's official website, www. legis.la.gov, to date, four bills have been prefiled concerning firearms (See box at right) with only one directly involving guns on campuses and one involving mental health issues. All were filed in the House of Representatives.
Pre-filed bills on firearms
Rep. Barbara Norton-Democrat District 3 WEAPONS/FIREARMS:
Creates the crime of unlawful storage of a firearm
Rep. Jim Morris-Republican District 1 WEAPONS/FIREARMS:
Prohibits the enforcement of federal restrictions regarding the ownership or possession of semi-automatic firearms
Rep. John M. Schroder- Republican District 77 WEAPONS:
Provides that the crime of carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon on school property shall not apply to off-duty law enforcement officers
Rep. Henry Burns-Republican District 9 WEAPONS/HANDGUNS:
Provides with respect to reporting of mental health information regarding the purchase of firearms