Under the Gun

Louisiana gun owners enjoy constitutionally-guaranteed rights

PAT CULVERHOUSE
pat@press-hearald.com

Gun owners in Louisiana can be thankful for the state in which they live.

Judge Scott Crichton and Capt. Kenny Sanders talk Bullet Points on the 2nd Amendment with Minden Lions Club

Judge Scott Crichton and Capt. Kenny Sanders talk Bullet Points on the 2nd Amendment with Minden Lions Club

“We have the Louisiana constitutional amendment which says the citizens of Louisiana have a fundamental right to bear arms. We are protected and insulated by the state amendment.” said First Judicial District Court Judge Scott Crichton. “Our state has greater rights and protections than many others.”

Crichton, a Minden native who has been sitting on the bench in Caddo Parish since 1991 and is a candidate for the state Supreme Court in the 11-parish District 2, discussed the Second Amendment and gun responsibilities with members of the Minden Lions Club Thursday.

Joining Crichton in the presentation was Capt. Kenny Sanders of the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office. Sanders is director of the regional training academy and is responsible for the instruction of roughly 9,000 law enforcement officers each year.

While Louisiana gun owners enjoy strong constitutionally guaranteed rights where gun ownership is concerned, “…you have to keep your eye on Washington, D.C.” Crichton said.

Crichton cited two cases which went before the U.S. Supreme Court; both involved registration issues where local officials passed laws which made gun ownership almost impossible. In both cases, the Court upheld the Second Amendment and declared the prohibitions unconstitutional.

“But here’s the scary part. The majority ruling in both cases was 5-4,” Crichton said. “In Louisiana, we’re paying attention. We’re concerned about these 5-4 rulings. What if another justice retires and the current administration makes the appointment? What if there is a shift in the majority?”

Crichton said the last gtwo appointments (justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) were made by President Barack Obama and their record is clear. If the president has the opportunity to select another Supreme Court Justice, “…we know what would happen.” the judge said.

Sanders said Louisiana gun owners should be aware that many things they’ve heard about laws in the state need clarification.

“We’re asked about the need to register firearms,” Sanders said “There is no registration requirement in Louisiana for conventional weapons. By conventional, we mean that when you pull the trigger one time, one round is fired. If you have a weapon that fires multiple rounds when the trigger is engaged one time, that weapon must be registered.”

Louisiana gun laws are also unique in another way, Sanders said.

In Louisiana, your car is considered an extension of your home. You can doi the same thing with a gun in your car that you can in your home,” he said. “You can keep it in plain view. You do not need a gun permit to hide a gun in your car or your home.”

While Louisiana gun owners may keep a firearm concealed in the vehicle, Sanders had one suggestion which he considers very important.

If you are stopped by an officer for any reason, he or she will ask you if your have a weapon in your vehicle. Please tell the nice officer that you do and where it is,” he said. “We don’t care that you have one, but please tell us where it is and do not reach in that direction. We’re still trying to determine who you are.”

Sanders said law enforcement officers are seeing far too many issues settled with guns where no gun is really necessary.

“Guns are not the best first option for dealing with trouble. There are options other than killing folks especially when the problem is outside the home,” he said. “We are seeing more people getting shot over issues that are not a threat to life… people are getting shot over dogs, deer stands, duck blinds and the like.”

There is one popular misconception among Louisiana residents about shooting someone who may not be inside a home.

“If you’ve told anyone they should drag a person inside the home if they are shot outside the residence, you are wrong.” Sanders said. “If they are trying to make entry into the home but have not made it inside, shoot him and leave him outside. Don’t drag him into the house and damage a good crime scene. It’s perfectly legal to leave a dead guy outside.”

“There is justification for shooting someone,” Crichton said. “if a person fires a weapon in self defense, defense of the home or place of business it is a justifiable use of force… reasonable and necessary. You may stand your ground and meet force with force.”