A Fat Tuesday shooting that occurred in the wake of the Rex and Zulu processions and injured seven parade-goers could be the catalyst for stiffer gun laws in Louisiana. When lawmakers convene their regular session next month, on the agenda is a bill that would create new penalties for firing off a weapon in large crowds.

The legislation by Rep. Juan LaFonta, a Crescent City Democrat, was dropped in the hopper this morning as House Bill 44. It would prohibit the possession or discharge of a firearm at a public gathering of 50 or more people.

But there are exceptions for hunting, law enforcement, private residences, constitutionally protected areas and historic reenactments. The proposed penalties include imprisonment at hard labor for up to seven years, with at least five served without benefit of parole, and as much as a $5,000 fine.

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