Last year, the Louisiana voters’ approved a constitutional amendment that made it easier for criminals to challenge the state’s gun laws in court. The amendment was the first in the nation to require courts considering state constitutional challenges to gun laws to apply “strict scrutiny,” the highest judicial standard. This year, five states introduced similar measures. The legislation failed in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota, but succeeded in Alabama where it will be put before the voters during the next election. These amendments are extremely dangerous because they require courts to use a nearly insurmountable standard for all firearms laws. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has not required courts to use the level of scrutiny required by these measures.
In fact, several months after approval of the amendment in Louisiana, an Orleans Parish judge overturned the conviction of a felon who had been found in possession of an AK-47. The judge ruled that the state law prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a firearm did not pass the high standard imposed by the new constitutional provision. If voters approve the Alabama amendment, similar results are likely.
The moves by these states are especially alarming given that Louisiana has the second, and Alabama the third, highest gun death rate per capita in the United States. By making it nearly impossible to regulate firearms in these states, there is little hope that these tragic gun death rates will fall in the near future.
Want to know more? Check out other recent examples of extreme gun laws and policies in America on our Extremism in Action page.