New Orleans Eyes New Gun-Control Measures To Stem Violence
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The mayor of New Orleans, a city plagued by murders and shootings, hopes to stem the violence with new gun-control measures, including a requirement that stolen and lost guns are promptly reported to police.
On Friday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Council members introduced the proposed gun laws.
The ordinance, as drafted, largely duplicates state and federal laws that exist, and some experts questioned how effective the city ordinance would be.
Under the proposal, it would become a crime to not report stolen or lost guns within 48 hours. Also, it would make it a crime to unlawfully possess a gun in or near New Orleans' athletic parks, schools and school buses as well as to have a gun without a serial number and to improperly brandish a gun. The ordinance also places restrictions on people convicted of domestic abuse battery to own a gun.
Landrieu said the ordinance would "be one more tool" for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and combat street violence.
New Orleans has struggled for years with a high murder rate, retaliatory killings, drug traffickers, shootings and robberies.
So far this year there have been 35 homicides and 67 nonfatal shootings, according to New Orleans police figures. Although high, the number of homicides is down from last year when the city had tallied 50 killings by this time of year, police said. There had been a similar number of shootings last year, police said.
"Together, we can stem the tide of gun violence and make New Orleans a city of peace," Landrieu said in a statement.
Not reporting a stolen or lost gun would carry a $250 fine. Violations of other sections would carry a $500 fine or six months in prison.
Still, some viewed the proposed ordinance as largely toothless.
Dee Harper Wood Jr., a criminologist at Loyola University, doubted the ordinance would accomplish as much as those pushing it hope. "My first reaction when I read it, it was pablum," Wood said. "Mild."
He added that most of what the ordinance calls for is already covered by state and federal statutes, making the city ordinance unnecessary.
"There should be no daylight between local and state law when it comes to prosecuting gun crimes," said Hayne Rainey, a spokesman for Landrieu, in an emailed statement.
He said that's why it's important that local law "mirror state law so that offenses carry the maximum penalty."
Mark VanLandingham, a public health researcher who studies crime in New Orleans, said the ordinance could help reduce murders. He said the move proves that crime "is on our radar screens" and that city leaders are looking at new methods to tackle violence.
Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said the ordinance was "political posturing."
"For the most part, these ordinances are state law and are already illegal," she said. She said the requirement to report lost and stolen guns is new. She said that part of the ordinance could end up making "law-abiding people" criminals if they don't report a lost gun.
"A lot of times people don't even realize they've been robbed," she said.
Rainey noted that most guns used in crimes are stolen and often those stolen weapons are not reported to law enforcement. "Through this commonsense measure, we can deter gun trafficking and stem the tide of guns getting into the wrong hands," he said.
As drafted, the ordinance requires someone to make a report within 48 hours of discovering a gun is lost or stolen.
– by AP Reporter Cain Burdeau