Orleans Parish Judge Rules Felon Firearms Ban Unconstitutional

Mar 21, 2013

An Orleans Parish judge has ruled that the state law banning felons from owning firearms is unconstitutional, based on a state constitutional amendment ensuring an absolute right to bear arms in Louisiana, according to a report from the Times-Picayune.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny issued the ruling Thursday, not only throwing out the case against a convicted burglar who was found riding in a car with a handgun and an AK-47, but declaring the entire statute banning felons from owning firearms unconstitutional.

According to the newspaper:

The Orleans Parish public defenders office challenged the constitutionality of the statute on behalf of a half-dozen clients, all charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The attorneys concede that public safety is a compelling interest to bar violent offenders, like murderers or armed robbers, from possessing weapons. But the law also bars people convicted of a number of less obviously violent felonies from possessing guns.

The state constitutional amendment establishing an absolute right to possess firearms was passed last November by a margin of 1,331,891 to 481,360.

The ruling will now go to the Louisiana Supreme Court, who will make the final determination on the statute's constitutionality.