Bobby Jindal's Gun Control Stance in Question After Lafayette Shooting


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has offered his condolences to the victims of Thursday's deadly shooting at a Lafayette movie theater. Jindal, who has supported countless pro-gun laws over the years, framed the event as a "senseless act of violence."

A gunman identified as 59-year-old John Russell Houser shot 11 people, killing two, during a screening of the comedy Trainwreck, before taking his own life. 

"This should never happen anywhere, but you certainly never imagine, you never imagine it would happen in Louisiana, never imagine it would happen in Lafayette," Jindal said Thursday night at a news conference, according to Fox 10 TV. 

But it's actually not all that inconceivable. Louisiana has the highest rate of gun-related homicides of any state in the country, according to federal data from 2013. That year, it was one of only four states where firearm homicide rates were higher than gun-related suicides.

Many of Louisiana's lax gun policies were created under Jindal, who took office in 2008. The Republican governor and 2016 presidential hopeful has signed several pieces of legislation in recent years aimed at loosening gun ownership laws in his state, including making it easier for residents to carry guns in public. 

Denny Culbert/AP

Last year, Jindal signed a bill that allowed residents with concealed handgun permits to tote their firearms into restaurants serving alcohol, the Times-Picayune reported in May 2014.

Another bill the governor signed at the time expanded the state's so-called "stand your ground" law, which allows residents to use self-defense as a reason for killing intruders who break into their homes or cars. Florida's version of that law became a topic of heated debate following the 2012 shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who said he fired his weapon because he feared for his life. 

In 2013, Jindal signed six gun bills to protect firearm owners, including a bill that would penalize anyone who published a concealed handgun permit holder's private information. 

Jindal has the blessing of several prominent gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, and spent at least part of his time as a U.S. representative trying to limit gun restrictions. Gun Owners of America, a prominent gun rights group, in 2008 gave Jindal an "A" rating on its politician grading scale (a measure of a politician's apparent gun-friendliness), meaning the group considered Jindal "philosophically sound" when it came to his support for U.S. gun laws. 

On Friday, Jindal posted on Twitter a few messages about the shooting. "The evil that exists in our world is stunning," he tweeted. "But the stories of friends shielding friends from gunfire should give us all hope."

Jindal has frequently lambasted politicians who have called for tighter gun controls in the wake of similar recent shootings. The governor attacked President Barack Obama after the president promoted stricter gun laws in the wake of last month's Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre, referring to the call to action as "shameful." 

"Now is the time for prayer, now is the time for healing," Jindal said during a speech in Iowa following the Charleston shooting, according to Salon. "As far as the political spectrum, this isn't the time."