A Senate committee gave the first stamp of approval to a bill that would raise the purchasing age for assault rifles in Louisiana.
"AK-47, Uzi, AR-15, the type of weapons that we’ve seen used in Florida, in Columbine, in Las Vegas and so many others," Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) explained to a Senate Judiciary committee Tuesday.
Senator Carter’s bill would increase the buying age from 18 to 21. Anyone under 21 could still own and use assault weapons, but they wouldn't be able to purchase them.
He has the support of New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison.
Chief Harrison says a large number of shootings in New Orleans are carried out with assault rifles and committed by young people between the ages of 16 and 24. In those cases, he says, assault rifles aren’t being used in self-defense.
“In every last one of those cases," he explained, "in every murder and every non-fatal shooting where an assault rifle was used, it was used in the assault of another person or persons.”
Critics argue the harsher age restriction is an infringement on second amendment rights. Erin Luper represents the National Rifle Association, who opposes the bill.
"Any legislative proposal that seeks to prevent law-abiding adults age 18 to 20 years old from acquiring these firearms deprives them of their constitutional right to self-defense," she said.
Others suggested it only makes it more difficult for people who aren't breaking the law to purchase these weapons.
Sen. Carter explained to the committee that he’s not trying to take away anyone's rights, but he's trying to increase public safety.
"We've had massive shootings in schools, churches, movie theaters, concert venues. It's got to stop," he urged the members.
The bill narrowly passed committee, with four votes in support and three against. Its next stop is the Senate floor.