The right to acquire and possess a weapon for self-defense is etched in our nation’s Constitution. However, state and federal laws have put in place several restrictions pertaining to how citizens can exercise this right. The state of Louisiana is no exception, and there are several Louisiana and federal restrictions regulating how, where, when, and by whom weapons may be used. Per those limitations, the specific way in which a weapon was used could qualify as a crime, and being in possession of an illegal weapon may also be a criminal act.
This article is aimed at helping you do your due diligence as a gun owner in Louisiana by understanding common weapons charges, their legal penalties, and how to avoid being charged and convicted of weapons offenses. However, if you have been arrested for violating weapon laws, you are legally entitled to seek legal counsel. Working with a seasoned criminal defense attorney at a time like this helps you stand a better chance.
What Does It Mean to Have a Weapon?
According to the laws of Louisiana, weapon charges may refer to firearms or dangerous weapons. Firearms are defined as:
- A shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches long
- A weapon made from either a shotgun or a rifle and has been altered to be less than 26 inches long
- A rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches long
- A revolver, shotgun, pistol, or firearm whose serial number is obliterated
- A machine gun, pistol, revolver, rifle, assault rifle, shotgun, or submachine gun that is designed to fire fixed cartridge ammunition or from which a shot can be discharged by an explosive
On the other hand, dangerous weapons are simply any substance (liquid, gas, object, or instrument) intended to be used in a way that could be fatal.
What Are Some Common Types of Louisiana Weapon Charges?
Below is a list of state laws regarding weapons that, when violated, could lead to criminal charges being filed against you:
1. Intentionally Concealing Your Firearm or Any Dangerous Weapon
This refers to the act of hiding a gun on your person or near you. You are legally required to have a permit to carry legally permitted weapons, and if you don’t, you face a fine of up to $500 and/or six months in jail if convicted.
2. Taking a Weapon to a Bar or Restaurant That Serves Alcohol
Taking a weapon to any premises where alcohol is served is a violation of weapons law. The offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
Exceptions apply where you have a permit for a concealed weapon and the premises is a restaurant.
3. Carrying a Concealed Weapon Into Certain Locations
Irrespective of a permit, it’s illegal to take a weapon in places of worship, parades/legalized demonstrations, another person’s home (unless the homeowner has consented), and any place where guns are banned. Other scenarios include:
- Carrying a concealed weapon while intoxicated
- Carrying a concealed weapon in a manner that could endanger those around you
Convictions for breach of this law range from six months to five years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $500.
4. Felons in Possession of a Weapon
Having a weapon within a 10-year period after completing a sentence and/or probation for a domestic violence crime or a felony conviction is unlawful in Louisiana. This offense is punishable by 5 to 20 years of jail time and a fine. Additionally, selling a weapon to a felon during the 10-year ban can get you up to five years in prison.
5. Committing a Crime Using a Weapon
This is considered an aggravating factor that can lead to harsher penalties. For example, conducting a theft using weapons.
Anyone under the age of 18 years of age is legally permitted to own rifles and shotguns in Louisiana, but not handguns. Except with their parent’s written permission, when hunting lawfully/target shooting, or when on private property with their parent’s consent and the consent of the property owner.
How Do You Qualify for a Concealed Weapon Permit in Louisiana?
To be considered eligible for a concealed weapon permit in Louisiana, you must meet the following conditions as stipulated by law:
- Must be living within the state of Louisiana
- Must be at least 21 of age
- Successfully complete an approved firearm class
It is also helpful for you to have no convictions for a felony or domestic violence, no restraining order against you, and not being known to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Contact an Experienced Louisiana Weapons Attorney
Louisiana is one of many states that do not need a permit to purchase and openly carry a weapon; however, the responsibility to know and fully abide by the laws pertaining to weapon ownership in Louisiana fully lies with every weapon owner in the state. Our skilled lawyers at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm have pursued and won hundreds of cases pertaining to the illegal application of firearms and other weapons-related charges in Louisiana.
If you or someone close to you has been charged with using or owning a gun or weapon illegally, our team will be on your side. Schedule a free consultation online with us today, or call our office at (318) 377-1555 so we can get started with your defense.