Louisiana State Supreme Court May Rule on Second Amendment Rights for Ex-Cons

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Louisiana Supreme Court is debating whether forbidding felons to own guns is constitutional, the distinguished criminal defense attorneys at Bloom Legal comment on the recent debate.

ex-convicts may soon be able to own guns

Certain ex-convicts may soon be able to own guns, the Bloom Legal New Orleans criminal defense attorneys say. Debates were sparked in the Louisiana Supreme Court over the constitutionality of RS 14:95.1, the Louisiana law that makes it illegal for anyone with a criminal record to own or carry a firearm, after a district judge ruled that the law violates fundamental Second Amendment rights.

According to the March 9 New Orleans Time-Picayune online article “Gun rights amendment helping felons charged with illegal gun possesion,” last year, three ex-convicts from Louisiana were arrested for possessing firearms, and their criminal defense lawyers protested the arrests in court. The lawyers argued that the Second Amendment granted the right to own a gun to every citizen, and that banning even criminals with nonviolent records was discriminatory and unconstitutional. Felons who are caught in possession of a gun face a ten to twenty year prison sentence. Under current law RS 14:95.1, owning or carrying a gun is illegal for anyone with a criminal record. Thus, when police found ex-con Rickey Jackson with a gun in hand, they arrested him. Jackson has a previous arrest for possession with intent to distribute cocaine from ten years ago, which prohibits him from having a gun.

The March 21 New Orleans Times-Picayune article “New Orleans judge rules statute forbidding felons from having firearms unconstitutional after ‘fundamental right’ amendment,” reported that Louisiana legislators recently passed a constitutional amendment declaring that the right to bear arms is a fundamental one. This means that all laws that seek to limit this right, including RS 14:95.1, must be subject to the highest levels of scrutiny lawmakers and judges, similar to laws that protect—or restrict—free speech and racial equality.

Although Judge Darryl Derbigny ruled that the amendment included the three ex-cons facing possession charges, other judges have argued that the amendment protects only “law-abiding citizens,” and that those with criminal records are not “law-abiding.” Judge Arthur Hunter ordered the felons charged with possession to be tried in court. But the Bloom Legal New Orleans criminal defense attorneys know that any trial will have to wait on the state Supreme Court’s decision, because Derbigny has called into question the constitutionality of RS 14:95:1.

Strict scrutiny is the highest level of judicial review, New Orleans criminal defense lawyers at Bloom Legal comment. Bloom Legal believes that Hunter and others who feel the statute is not a violation of rights must demonstrate that restricting every ex-con from accessing guns is a matter of “compelling government interest,” and that the interest is served in the most limited extent, and for criminals convicted of every crime, not just violent or dangerous crimes.

About Bloom Legal    

Bloom Legal is a New Orleans-based law firm that specializes in criminal law, personal injury, and drunk driving defense. Since 2004, Seth Bloom, a leading New Orleans criminal attorney, has successfully represented criminals whose rights have been violated in Louisiana.

Bloom Legal
700 Camp Street
Suite 210
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
(o) 504.599.9997 | (f) 504.595.3208

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