Open Carry in Louisiana

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I was told about an officer that ran across a citizen carrying a firearm openly.  The officer took what he felt was the appropriate action to address the situation.  In light of the current political climate regarding guns, gun control, the 2nd Amendment, etc., a couple of people indicated they would like to see some further information on the topic of open carrying.  This topic is much simpler than it may seem.

The law that allows open carry in Louisiana is Article 1 Section 11 of the Louisiana Constitution and the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Article 1 Section 11 of the Louisiana Constitution was recently amended to state “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” La. Const. art. I, § 11.The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  U.S. Const. amend. II

Without getting too heavy into some type of constitutional analysis, the Supreme Court says that American citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.  “Keep arms” means “have weapons” and “bear arms” means “wear, bear, or carry … upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose … of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.”  Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 584, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2793, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008).  See also McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill., 2010, 130 S.Ct. 3020, 177 L.Ed.2d 894.

It is allowable to ban the possession under certain circumstances.  LSA 14:95.1 bans convicted felons from possessing a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon (see State v. Clement, Sup.1979, 368 So.2d 1037).  It is likewise allowable to ban carrying a firearm at a school, a school-sponsored function, or a firearm-free zone (see LSA 14:95.2).

However, attempts to prohibit any form of open carry have been overturned as unconstitutional in Georgia and Tennessee.
In this regard, what is legal is defined by what is specifically illegal.  In general, if one is not in violation of LSA 14:95, et seq., one will be protected by the Louisiana Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has held that the state can regulate how weapons are

Louisiana Supreme Court

Louisiana Supreme Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

carried as discussed above:

The statute against carrying concealed weapons does not contravene the second article of the amendments of the Constitution of the United States. The arms there spoken of are such as are borne by a people in war, or at least carried openly. The article explains itself. It is in these words: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This was never intended to prevent the individual States from adopting such measures of police as might be necessary, in order to protect the orderly and well disposed citizens from the treacherous use of weapons not even designed for any purpose of public defence, and used most frequently by evil-disposed men who seek an advantage over their antagonists, in the disturbances and breaches of the peace which they are prone to provoke. There is, therefore, nothing in the Constitution of the United States which requires of us a rigorous construction of the statute in question.  State v. Smith, 11 La. Ann. 633 (1856).

The Louisiana Supreme Court also addressed what constitutes concealment.  Basically, if part of the weapon is concealed and part visible, then it is concealed.  If you strap a rifle to your back or holster a weapon on your hip, it is not concealed.

The constitutional right is to bear arms openly, so that when one meets an armed man there can be no mistake about the fact that he is armed. When we see a man with musket to shoulder, or carbine slung on back, or pistol belted to his side, or such like, he is bearing arms in the constitutional sense. Of course there are other examples. These are but illustrations. There is no danger of any jury or court misinterpeting our statute prohibiting carrying concealed weapons, and confounding a case of lawful arms-bearing with one of carrying dangerous weapons concealed, unless verbal distinctions are pressed too far and they are misled by them. A pistol half stuck in a pocket or about the clothes so that it is not fully exposed, even though a part of it may be visible, is carrying a concealed weapon within the meaning and intent of the statute, and that is the language of the charge.  State v. Bias, 37 La. Ann. 259, 260 (1885).

A law enforcement officer who encounters someone who is openly carrying a firearm is going to conduct an analysis as indicated in
T

erry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968),

unless the officer already has probable cause to arrest.  Of course a law enforcement officer is free to speak with whoever he or she choose.  However, that person is also free to not speak back or answer questions.  Once the individual is no longer free to leave, a law enforcement officer would need articulable probable cause to arrest.

I think it is also important to note that one is not guilty of trespass (LSA 14:63) as long as you have express, legal, or implied authority to enter or remain on the property.  A business, by the very nature of being open, impliedly invites people in.  However, that authorization can be revoked at which time it could be a violation of LSA 14:63 to remain.  In the context of this discussion, if an individual was lawfully carrying a firearm openly, it would be legal to walk into the local grocery (as long as it didn’t violate some other law like being too close to a school or in a firearm-free zone).  However, if the store rescinds whatever authorization that person had to enter the store, then it could be a violation of LSA 14:63 to remain on the property (or return later).

The Louisiana Open Carry Awareness League provides these guidelines regarding open carry in Louisiana.  While this is obviously a special interest group, the FAQ’s appear to be decent explanations of the law.

If anyone has anything they would like to add to this discussion, please feel free to comment or let me know directly.  This is in no way meant to be a political statement on my part.  It is simply a recitation of the law as I understand it to be currently and is intended for those tasked with enforcing the law.

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10 thoughts on “Open Carry in Louisiana

  1. A Terry stop requires reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is, or is about to be committed. Generally, plain view carry isn’t a crime (in Louisiana); thus, absent additional info/indicia of a crime, plain view does NOT create reasonable suspicion. Doing a Terry stop without reasonable suspicion can land the leo, and the department, in court. Be careful, and good luck.

  2. I have been carrying openly for many years. I have had my LEO encounters, always ended well. Even in other states. Normally it’s behavior that alarms people, but not always. Sometimes they are just plain ignorant. I have many stories dealing with it. I prefer open carry. All my permits expired years ago.

    • Yes Leonard you are very right. I am from Texas but I work in Eunice. I found out about open carry some time back. Just to be on the safe side before I opened carried, I called the Eunice police department and asked questions concerning legal issues on open carry. A very well informed officer (Sargeant Dunn) there told me everything I already knew about OC. Fifteen minutes later at a gas station I asked a Sheriff sitting in his car and he said there is no open carry in Louisiana, and this was not the wild west and really did not know where I got this bad information. The only thing he was right on was the permit for concealed. So yes its very sad that some LEO’s don’t know and it would be logical to think concerning guns especially they should be experts on this field. I want to thank the gun organizations out there for educating and informing about OC laws awareness. God bless the Bayou State, Amen.

      • Thank You. I really appreciate your response. I now live in Little Rock, Arkansas I am still a member of LOCAL. For more information go the website laopencarry.org this will help you tremendously. Have a great day.

  3. More of a question than a comment. If I Carry my 1911 in a horizontal shoulder rig the grip of the pistol is visible from the front & the barrel/slide is visible from the back. The only part that’s covers by my arm is the part that is covered by the holster. The opposit side has a pouch for 2 mags which are used. So my question is…If I do not wear a cover garment & the Shoulder rig is visible as well as the gun as described, would that pass for open carry or because part of the pistol is under my arm is it considered concealed? From what you’ve written of the law it seems concealed would be the answer although I wish otherwise as I find the shoulder rig more convenient & comfortable.

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