S&WB exception to state firearms law endorsed by Senate panel
By Ed Anderson, The Times-Picayune
May 14, 2010, 5:30AM
New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board officials won a narrow victory Thursday in their attempt to ban firearms and explosive devices from their plants and other facilities.
State Sen. Edwin Murray
The Senate Committee on Local and Municipal Affairs voted 3-2 for Senate Bill 526 by Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, which would give the board an exception to the state law that allows firearms to be carried onto a plant site as long as they are locked safely in a vehicle.
Murray's bill now heads to the Senate floor for debate. The governor's office and the National Rifle Association opposed Murray's bill in committee although only an association lobbyist testified against it.
"You are pitting two constitutional rights against one another," said Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, referring to the right to bear arms and the right for an individual to control property.
"Safety is paramount," said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, one of the proponents of the measure.
S&WB general counsel Brian Ferrara testified that the bill is needed because the Sewerage and Water Board is a state agency and a creature of the Legislature.
He said that last year, an employee went to his car, retrieved a firearm and shot a co-worker. He said the agency deals with sophisticated equipment like pumps and chemicals used to treat water, so guns should not enter those types of facilities.
"The local government must provide for the health and safety of the water supply of the city," and allowing guns to be taken to any board facility is a threat to that, Murray said.