Metro Council to vote on repeal of outdated gun ordinance - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Metro Council to vote on repeal of outdated gun ordinance

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A last minute item added to Wednesday's Metro Council agenda will address the repeal of an outdated ordinance that is the focus of an ongoing lawsuit against the city, Baton Rouge Police Department, and individuals with the Parish Attorney's office.

"Anyone who carries a gun in their vehicle is going to break this law at some point," Joe Donahue, Jr., Associate Attorney with McGlynn, Glisson & Mouton, explained. "If the Metro Council members vote to remove this from the code of ordinances, then it will no longer be a law in Baton Rouge. If the ordinance is repealed, it will be clear that there will be no way the Baton Rouge Police Department can try to enforce it in the future."

As it stands, the ordinance, which was enacted in 1951, restricts the use of a "dangerous weapon, in any premises where alcoholic beverages are sold and/or consumed on the premises." It allows a law enforcement official to take any firearm or other weapon found on any individual located any place where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.

"If you stop at a gas station, or are in the parking lot of an establishment that sells alcohol, it's illegal in the city of Baton Rouge under this ordinance," Donahue explained in a past interview.

In 1986, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the ordinance cannot be used as a means to search an individual who is in the parking lot of a business that sells alcohol. It should only include those places where alcohol is being consumed.

"The purpose is to prevent people who are drinking and get drunk from having easy access to firearms," Donahue explained. "Immediately after the state passed that statue, the city of Baton Rouge passed one as well."

Although the adapted ordinance was passed, an oversight allowed the original one drafted in 1951 to remain on the books.

On October 13, 2012, an officer utilized the original version to confiscate three guns from a Baton Rouge man during a standard traffic stop. The defendant pulled out of the parking lot of a business that sold alcohol without his headlights turned on.

The guns were legally registered and the owner did not have any felony convictions on his record. However, his guns were placed into an evidence locker, and there they sat until June 23, 2014.

"On Monday, the Parish Attorney's Office provided me an order from Baton Rouge City Court Judge Yvette Alexander, which directed the Baton Rouge Police Department to release the guns to me," Donahue said.

The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. It will return to court on July 8 for a hearing regarding possible sanctions after an attorney at the Parish Attorney's Office failed to file a court document on time. 

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