Louisiana governor says background checks would complement red flag gun law

By: - June 14, 2022 10:23 pm

Smith & Wesson handguns on display at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

As the U.S. Senate moves closer to crafting and approving a bipartisan bill that would fund states that establish red flag laws, Louisiana’s governor said he believes the state can go one better.

Red flag laws allow courts and police to temporarily take firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others. Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he would like to see background checks prevent high-risk gun purchases altogether.

“You hear it all the time that guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” Edwards told reporters after speaking engagement in Harvey. “Well, that means that the wrong people shouldn’t have guns, and you figure out who the wrong people are on the front end with a background check.”

Gun dealers who hold federal licenses are required to conduct a criminal background check before selling a weapon. It screens potential buyers for a history of criminal activity – including domestic violence – drug use and mental health issues.

Private sellers aren’t required to conduct background checks. That allows gun purchases to go unscreened at gun shows and online.
Currently, 21 states require background checks before all gun sales. None are in the Deep South.
Ten states have some version of a red flag law, including Florida. It gives authorities the power to prevent anyone considered dangerous from buying or possessing a firearm, and it was put in place after the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland high school that killed 17 students and faculty.
While Edwards would not commit to supporting a particular version of a red flag law, he said he could see Louisiana modeling its statute after Florida’s. Judges there have acted more than 8,000 times to remove or restrict gun access to individuals, according to state data.
Approval of any gun restriction in Louisiana will be a challenge. In recent years, most efforts in the Legislature involving firearms laws have been aimed at relaxing standards.
For the past two years, state lawmakers have tried to pass bills to allow individuals to carry concealed firearms without a permit or training. Edwards vetoed the proposal in 2021, and a comparable bill this year cleared the House of Representatives.
The legislation appeared destined for approval before the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. After 19 students and two teachers were killed, a Louisiana Senate committee chose to amend the so-called constitutional carry measure into one that would allow one employee per school to be carry a concealed gun as a “school protection officer.”
Although the revised bill was sent to the Senate floor, it was never brought up for a vote.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.