New Gun Restrictions Signed Into Law in New Orleans

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A city ordinance Mayor Mitch Landrieu approved Monday includes penalties for failing to report lost or stolen firearms, along with other provisions.

Gun owners will face fines for failing to report lost or stolen firearms to police and will be barred from carrying their weapons at certain city recreational facilities, under legislation New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law on Monday.

Landrieu and two members of the New Orleans City Council put forward a preliminary package of proposed gun restrictions in April. But some of what they originally floated was left out of the final legislation. A Louisiana statute prevents localities from imposing gun regulations that are more stringent than state law.

“We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to fight back and halt the stream of guns getting in the wrong hands,” Landrieu, a Democrat, said Monday in a statement. He added: “We are giving NOPD more tools to stem the tide of gun violence in New Orleans.”

But some experts have voiced skepticism over how effective the city’s restrictions might be. Dee Harper Wood Jr., a criminologist at Loyola University, told the Associated Press in April, when the original gun legislation was unveiled, that the ordinance was largely redundant with state and federal law. "My first reaction when I read it, it was pablum," Wood said at the time. “Mild.”

The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, bashed the city’s measure last week, calling it “misguided and potentially unlawful.” The group also likened Landrieu’s stance on firearms to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “severe antagonism towards law-abiding gun owners.” In the NRA’s view: the reporting mandate stands to punish law-abiding gun owners, and designating “gun free zones” will not cause criminals to disarm in those places.

Under the city’s gun ordinance, all New Orleans Recreation Development Commission facilities, places like parks, playgrounds and recreation centers, are declared “firearm-free zones.”

The new city regulations also include restrictions on negligently carrying a concealed firearm; this mirrors a state law that imposes the same requirement. This sort of negligence is defined as carrying a concealed gun in a way that creates reasonable apprehension among others that it may be fired or that a crime is being committed.

Violating the firearm free zone or negligent carry provisions can result in fines up to $500, or six months jail time. If a person fails to report a lost or stolen gun to city police within 48 hours of the time it is discovered missing, they can be fined $250 and $500 for repeat offenses.

The proposal initially put forward in April also included penalties for possessing or dealing guns without serial numbers and for people who violated restrictions on the possession of firearms following domestic violence convictions.

Both of these provisions aligned with existing state laws, according to Landrieu’s office.

New Orleans had 164 murders in 2015, according to police department figures. The city has about 389,000 residents, meaning its murder rate was around 42 per 100,000 people. In contrast, the rate in New York City last year was roughly 4.1 per 100,000 residents with 352 incidents of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter and a population of about 8.5 million.

At least 10 states and the District of Columbia have reporting requirements for lost or stolen firearms, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Louisiana is not among them.

Local governments have enacted these types of measures as well. The Law Center points to a 2007 Sacramento ordinance as just one example.

Seattle’s City Council last year included lost or stolen firearm reporting requirements in a package of gun legislation enacted there. The legislation also included new taxes on firearms and ammunition sold in the city, which subsequently survived a court challenge.

Bill Lucia is a Reporter at Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.

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