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June 7, 2023

Bipartisan Louisiana Proposal is a Real Solution to Reduce Firearm Tragedies

By Larry Keane

One NSSF-supported legislative proposal in Louisiana has gained unanimous bipartisan support and is hopefully close to being signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. It’s commonsense proposal to incentivize safe firearm storage without imposing unconstitutional – and unenforceable – mandates.

Instead of involving more gun control restrictions that typically penalizes law-abiding Americans while ignoring criminals who break the laws, the Louisiana proposal would instead provide a voluntary, incentive-based opportunity for gun owners to practice safe and responsible firearm storage in their homes.

At a time when millions of Americans are purchasing firearms – including a large percentage who are first-time gun buyers – education and access to safe and secure gun storage options that work best for individual gun owners in their homes is a step in the right direction to help reduce firearm tragedies and unintentional gun injuries.

Safe Storage Smooth Sailing

Democratic Louisiana state Rep. Mandie Landry introduced House Bill 247 to provide gun owners with up to a $500 tax credit if they voluntarily purchased a gun safe, firearm safety lock or other gun storage safety device. Good policy brings people together and, in this instance, Rep. Landry’s safe storage bill has done just that.

“Responsible gun ownership and safe storage are issues that unite everyone,” Rep. Landry said in a press statement. “Preventing unnecessary death and theft are priorities that we all agree we should work on together.” Those are statements with which the firearm industry wholeheartedly agrees.

The bipartisan proposal sailed through the House of Representatives in May, passing by a vote of 100-0. That included all Republicans and staunch Second Amendment rights supporters in the lower chamber. Backing Rep. Landry’s bill was Republican Louisiana state Representative and House Majority Leader Blake Miguez. His Second Amendment bona fides are unquestioned, having finished 5th in the 2022 IPSC World Shoot in Thailand in November 2022 and helping Team USA claim the Silver Medal. Majority Leader Miguez has also previously been the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) World Champion and has proven to be one of the world’s best pistol competitive shooters over the last two decades. Rep. Miguez was honored as the NSSF State Legislator of the Year award winner at SHOT Show® 2023.

The Louisiana State Senate was equally approving of the measure too. In the upper chamber, Louisiana state senators voted unanimously over the past weekend, 37-0, and passed the safe storage tax credit too. The Senate’s approval means the bill heads to Gov. John Bel Edward’s desk for signature.

Virginia’s Example

Louisiana isn’t alone in bringing together elected leaders from opposite sides to incentivize safe firearm storage. Earlier this year, Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law H 2387. The law in the Commonwealth provides up to $300 in tax credits for gun owners to use towards a firearm storage device, similar to the Louisiana proposal. In Virginia, the NSSF-supported law was just as bipartisan, for all intents and purposes, passing the Virginia General Assembly by a vote of 98-1 and the Virginia Senate 40-0 before Gov. Youngkin signed it into law.

The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Alphonso Lopez said, “This bill is not about requiring people to do anything. It’s not about banning anything. It’s not taking anything away. This bill simply gives a tax credit to try and incentivize something that many law-abiding gun owners already do.”

With Gov. Youngkin’s signature, Virginia joined several other states in offering similar voluntary tax credit incentives for safe home firearm storage; including Tennessee, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington. Louisiana could join the list in a matter of days.

Meaningful Real Solutions

The firearm industry knows safe and responsible gun storage in the home is most effective when the gun-owning community has buy-in and helps with the messaging and education efforts surrounding any firearm safety programs. That’s what NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi told U.S. senators at a committee hearing last year regarding a mandatory firearm storage proposal. “The messenger matters,” he said. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was upset NSSF would not support his bill, entitled “Ethan’s Law,” to mandate locking firearms.

But the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller held that mandatory firearm storage laws were unconstitutional. That ruling in no way diminishes the industry’s longstanding advocacy for safe and responsible firearm storage. To that end, NSSF has championed Project ChildSafe® (PCS) as one of the firearm industry’s pillar Real Solutions. Safer Communities® initiatives. Launched in 1999, PCS has encouraged gun owners to be educated on safe firearm storage and responsible with a storage method that makes sense for their particular needs in the home. PCS has provided more than 40 million free firearm safety kits, including cable locking devices, free of charge through partnerships with over 15,000 local law enforcement agencies in the 50 states and five U.S. territories.

Just since January 2022, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 296,000 free gun locks in hundreds of communities across the country, including Chicago, Las Vegas, Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, Columbia, S.C. and Albuquerque. In fact, in 2013, then-Vice President Joe Biden complimented industry firearm safety efforts through Project ChildSafe.

While more states consider voluntary methods of incentivizing safe and secure home firearm storage for the millions of law-abiding gun owners, the firearm industry is gratified that the efforts have been successful. Keeping firearms stored and locked away from children and those who may be going through mental health struggles has lowered fatal firearm accidents to their lowest levels since record keeping began in 1903.

These are programs and efforts that should be pursued and replicated in order to create safer communities. Pushing gun control laws and mandates that only penalize law-abiding gun owners, while ignoring criminals, won’t help to reduce these tragedies. States like Louisiana and Virginia are showing it can be done with bipartisan agreement.

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