Gun Rights in Louisiana

Katherine Gilmer

Katherine Gilmer

In 2012, the citizens of the State of Louisiana amended the state constitution to provide emphatically that the right to bear arms is fundamental “and shall not be infringed,” and further subjected any restrictions placed on this right to strict scrutiny.

In 2014, the Legislature passed Act 195, which enacted La. R.S. 14:95.10 and 46:2136.3. Each of these statutes limited the rights of individuals to possess guns in particular circumstances. La. R.S. 14:95.10 restricted those convicted of Domestic Abuse Battery (La. R.S. 14:35.3) from possessing a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon. Firearm is defined in the statute as “any pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, submachine gun, black powder weapon, or assault rifle which is designed to fire or is capable of firing fixed cartridge ammunition or from which a shot or projectile is discharged by an explosive.” “Weapon,” strangely, is not defined in the statute. La. R.S. 46:2136.3 involves the possession of weapons by individuals against whom protective orders have been issued.

The statute makes possession or carrying of such a firearm a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of one year and up to five years (potentially at hard labor) and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000; and criminalizes the possession of a firearm for ten years from the date of completion of sentence, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for the underlying offense.

In July of this year, the legislature passed Act 440, which extended the reach of the Domestic Abuse Battery statute to criminalize the intentional use of force or violence committed by one household member or family member upon the person of another household member or family member. (The italicized language was added by Act 440.)

A “household member” is defined as “any person of the opposite sex presently or formerly living in the same residence with the offender as a spouse, whether married or not, or any child presently or formerly living in the same residence with the offender, or any child of the offender regardless of where the child resides.” A “family member” “means spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepparents, stepchildren, foster parents, and foster children.”

Important to note, also, is the fact that the legislature removed a former limitation on the statute’s application. Prior to this year, if a defendant had not resided with the complainant within five years, the crime of Domestic Abuse Battery did not apply (a battery could still have been committed, but that’s a blog for another day). Now, there is no limitation on the time since the cohabitation.

Thus, despite a state constitutional amendment providing that gun ownership is a fundamental right, the Louisiana legislature has passed legislation in the intervening years broadening the circumstances under which gun ownership can be criminalized or restricted.

(It should be noted that the Federal government has had such restrictions in place for many years (see 18 USCA §922(g)(9)).)

If you or someone you know is facing charges of Domestic Abuse Battery, seek legal advice immediately so that you don’t place your fundamental rights at risk.

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