Politics of Compromise: Domestic Violence and Guns

Mar 31, 2014

A package of bills to help prevent domestic violence deaths is pending debate on the House floor, but without a controversial piece of the puzzle.

New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno is the author of the bills, which are backed by the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. After the House Criminal Justice Committee moved favorable on Moreno’s first two domestic violence measures, she offered an amendment to her third bill, which would align Louisiana with federal law. It prohibits those convicted of domestic abuse battery from owning a firearm for ten years, but would have also allowed law enforcement to remove all firearms from a home when responding to a domestic violence call.

“We have agree to remove the last section of this bill, the portion on seizing firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident,” Moreno said.

Shreveport Representative Roy Burrell didn’t hesitate to point fingers.

“Out good friends--the NRA--have struck again, it appears,” Burrell said.

Moreno admitted there was pressure from the NRA, which prompted Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton to declare, “When it comes to the gun, in Louisiana: gun is number one. Safety is number two.”

But Moreno defended the decision as a necessary compromise.

“I would have loved to have a hundred percent of this bill go through with flying colors. I would have loved it!” Moreno declared. “But I know the obstacles that are ahead—particularly with that seizure portion. And I’d rather save the majority of this bill, than have it all completely fall apart and not come out with anything for domestic violence victims.”

Representative Steve Pylant, a retired sheriff from Winnsboro, got cheers from the crowd of observers in the committee room when said he was disappointed with that decision.

“I think you’re losing your clout with your bill, because your bill’s gonna pass,” Pylant told Moreno. “Anytime a bunch of ticked-off women come to the Capitol, they get their way, okay?”

With the “seizure at the scene” provision removed, the third bill was also approved by committee. In a subsequent conversation with Representative Moreno, she said Representative Pylant has indicated he intends to file a separate bill to try and get “seizure at the scene” made part of Louisiana law.