Pistol Packing Politicians?

Apr 9, 2014

   “This is for personal protection,” Senator Bret Allain said of his bill to allow legislators to carry their guns in the state capitol. The Senate and Governmental Affairs committee considered the Franklin lawmakers’ bill on Tuesday.

Allain says the proposed law has safeguards built in.

“Not only do you have to be certified, be fingerprinted, go through the process, but you have to take the training every year,” Allain told committee members.

But Senator Jean-Paul Morrell of New Orleans isn’t convinced that annual training is safeguard enough.

“I appreciate the level of expertise that you’re requiring, but I know a lot of our colleagues,” Morrell said. “A lot of them are great marksmen. A lot of them are not.”

Morrell went on to say he had great doubts about the wisdom of allowing lawmakers to be armed with weapons other than just their wits—especially while arguing the benefits of various bills.

“Because I know debate on the floor gets very heated, I don’t necessarily know if I trust legislators with guns,” Morrell explained.

Legislative violence is not totally unknown. In 2007, one Alabama senator punched another in the head during debate on the session’s closing day. Fists flew in California’s Assembly and in Michigan’s House in 2011, as well as in Oklahoma’s House in 2012. Here in Louisiana,  a series of brawls broke out on the House floor during the 1929 debate over impeaching Governor Huey Long—an incident that came to be known as “Bloody Monday.”

Interestingly, not one committee member brought up Huey Long’s assassination—pertinent since he was shot in a state capitol hallway in 1935. Perhaps that will be raised when the full Senate debates the bill, since it did advance on a 5 to 3 vote.