Louisianans can vote, buy cigarettes or lottery tickets and join the military when they turn 18. And for the foreseeable future, they’ll be able to buy assault weapons, after state lawmakers shot down a proposed restriction on sales Tuesday.
The Senate voted 26-9 against a bill that would have required aspiring assault rifle owners to be at least 21. Current state law lets anyone 18 or older purchase such guns.
“If this bill passes and it saves just one life, it’s well worth it,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) said last week, before the legislation passed a Senate committee.
Carter, a self-proclaimed gun enthusiast, argued that his legislation offered sensible limitations on ownership, after 19-year-old killed 17 people at a Florida high school in February. His measure had support from New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison, who said that during his four years on the job, he has only seen assault weapons fired in offense, never defense.
Opponents of the bill included representatives from the National Rifle Association and the Louisiana Shooting Association. Critics in the Senate claimed that such a law would have only led individuals to commit violence in other ways.
“If we took [assault weapons] away, unfortunately they would be shot with something else,” said Sen. Mack “Bodi” White (R-Central).
Another proposed restriction from Carter fared more favorably Tuesday. A Senate committee voted 3-2 in favor of his bill to ban sales and purchases of bump stocks. The accessory lets semi-automatic firearms unload at the same rate as a fully automatic weapon. It now heads to the full state Senate for consideration.