Metro Council to vote on repeal of outdated gun ordinance

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A last minute item added to Wednesday's Metro Council agendawill address the repeal of an outdated ordinance that is the focus of an ongoinglawsuit against the city, Baton Rouge Police Department, and individuals with theParish Attorney's office.

"Anyone who carries a gunin their vehicle is going to break this law at some point," JoeDonahue, 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 If the ordinance is repealed,it will be clear that there will be no way the Baton Rouge Police Departmentcan try to enforce it in the future."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 alcoholicbeverages are sold and/or consumed on the premises." It allows a lawenforcement official to take any firearm or other weapon found on anyindividual located any place where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.

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

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

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

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

On October 13, 2012, an officer utilized the originalversion to confiscate three guns from a Baton Rouge man during a standardtraffic stop. The defendant pulled out of the parking lot of a business thatsold alcohol without his headlights turned on.

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

"On Monday, the Parish Attorney's Office provided me anorder from Baton Rouge City Court Judge Yvette Alexander, which directed theBaton 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 sanctionsafter an attorney at the Parish Attorney's Office failed to file a courtdocument on time.

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