While this story takes place in Louisiana rather than Maryland, it does
give some insight into the national gun-control debate, which is sure
to continue to heat up over the course of the year. The National Rifle
Association (NRA) managed to get a constitutional amendment passed in
Louisiana, as Claire Galofaro reports for the Times-Picayune, making guns
a “fundamental right” in that state.
As Galofaro points out, to own a gun in Louisiana is now a right on a par
with freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Thus, judges there have been grappling with the right of a felon to possess
a firearm. Given that it’s now a fundamental right in that state,
one judge at the trial level recently tossed out a case against a man
who had been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. That
case will now head to the top court in that state.
Given that there are so many crimes for which you can get charged for,
some violent and some not-so-violent, does it make sense to exclude every
felon, no matter who he or she is, from owning a firearm?
That’s the essential question.
And that’s the debate in Louisiana and, to some extent, the debate
on the national stage as well. The Louisiana constitutional amendment
essentially clarifies and “enhances,” to use Galofaro’s
interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right
to keep and bear arms, though what that really means depends on who you ask.
The particular interpretation now favored in Louisiana is that of an individual’s
right to possess a firearm, which possibly makes it okay for felons to
own one, too. We’ll have to see how the top court in that state
rules on that issue, which could provide a precedent for the debate on
the national stage.
We often handle felon in possession of firearms cases, both those who originally
became felons from a violent crime and a non-violent crime, like a drug
offense. To learn more, please visit our Baltimore weapons offenses page.