2nd Amendment Violation
A Baton Rouge ordinance banning the possession of guns at bars or any other place that sells alcohol was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday. The ordinance also applied to parking lots of places that sell alcohol, including those at restaurants and grocery stores.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, in an order issued Monday (Aug. 25), struck down the city ordinance that was successfully challenged by a plaintiff who was arrested in 2012 after Baton Rouge Police Department officers pulled him over, searched his car and arrested him for violating the ordinance.
The plaintiff, Ernest Taylor, says that around 1:30 a.m. Oct. 13, 2012, he was pulled over for a traffic stop after exiting Romeo’s Lounge parking lot. After telling the officer he had two rifles in his car along with the proper permits, the officer forcibly retrained him on the hood a car before arresting him.
“When (Taylor) explained to (the officers) his understanding that he was allowed to carry the guns inside of his vehicle, the officers responded that there was a ‘new law’ that made it illegal for anyone to possess a firearm in the parking lot of an establishment that sold alcohol,” the judge’s order says, citing the lawsuit.
The judge ordered the city to return Taylor’s firearms to him and to pay him monetary damages, which will later be decided in a court hearing. Jackson also permanently barred the city, police chief, city attorneys and arresting officers from enforcing the ordinance in the future.
Jackson heard oral arguments of the case from both sides June 18 at the federal courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge.
In his ruling, the judge mentions the failure of defendants, including embattled Baton Rouge City attorney Mary Roper, to submit responses by deadline. As first reported by The Advocate, the Baton Rouge Metro Council cited Roper’s handling of the case as a reason for her demotion, which is now the subject of a separate lawsuit she filed against the city.
Taylor’s attorney Terrence “Joe” Donahue Jr. said the judge’s ruling does not affect state law prohibiting Louisiana residents from carrying a concealed weapon into bars or restaurants that serve alcohol. Nor, he said, will the ruling affect a newer city ordinance that basically mirrors the state statute.
Those laws, he said, are tailored more narrowly and do not include parking lots or establishments like liquor stores, gas stations and groceries that sell but do not serve alcohol. Taylor’s lawsuit did not challenge either the state law or newer city ordinance.