Our Views: On rights and sense

Maybe it’s a trifle early, but can we declare something of an outbreak of common sense on the issue of gun rights in Louisiana?

We say that because of two sensible decisions recently in the Legislature, which has, too often, shown a desire for guns galore in places where firearms are dangerous.

The Senate rightly rejected a bill to allow legislators to carry arms into the Legislature. Amid some joshing about the prospective stability of their colleagues during the heat of lawmaking anger, this bill also raised serious debate that revealed two important facts about our rights as citizens to carry arms.

One thought is that few rights are absolute. The famous example of this is that free speech does not entitle someone to start a panic by yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. So, gun rights should be reasonably restricted for reasons of health and safety.

Another thought is that the State Capitol is heavily secured during legislative sessions, so the need for the Hon. Chairman Wyatt Earp, R-Tombstone, is not really pressing.

Still, in a society flush with firearms, no one can predict that violence will not break out. The decisions about possessing arms should be informed by common sense and, increasingly, the availability of data about shootings and other crimes.

That is, in part, why another bill allowing teachers and principals to carry firearms met resistance in House committee. Various conditions were proposed in the bill, but a former sheriff and a former superintendent of State Police questioned the wisdom of the measure.

Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, is the former State Police commander. He said there are bad players in every profession and suggested it would be irresponsible to allow teachers to carry guns without undergoing psychological evaluations.

Rep. Steven E. Pylant, R-Crowville, is a former sheriff. He noted that most police officers are killed with their own guns. Like Pylant and Landry, we worry most about a troubled student getting easier access to a weapon on campus.

Any deterrent effect that some teachers might be armed might come at a very high price in lives.

We think lawmakers ought to be commended for looking more deeply into these proposals and weighing risks as well as benefits.