SC of Louisiana Upholds Felon Ban on Gun Ownership

Tuesday saw the Supreme Court of Louisiana rule on ongoing challenges to the constitutionality of banning the legal ownership of guns for convicted felons. Arguments based on two cases were first heard in May of this year. At the heart of the matter is the 2012 amendment to the State Constitution that established gun ownership as a basic right. This amendment stated that any limit on gun ownership would have to pass “strict scrutiny”.

The first of the two cases that led this issue to the Supreme Court involves two defendants, Kelin Stevens and Jamal Taylor, who are facing attempted murder and murder charges in an alleged drive by shooting that claimed the life of an eleven-year-old boy. A District court judge had previously ruled in the defendants’ favour on the question of whether gun ownership in their cases were constitutionally protected.

The second case involves Christopher G. Eberhardt who was arrested in 2012 on charges of theft. He is alleged to have been in possession of a gun in that arrest, which would be prohibited based on an earlier conviction in 2007 for illegally entering a home. The District Court judge in that case ruled the prohibition preventing him from legally owning a gun to be constitutional. The defense for Eberhardt appealed that decision thus bringing it to the Supreme Court.

The decision Tuesday was unanimous on the issue of the constitutionality of banning legal gun ownership for convicted felons for a period of ten years following completion of their punishment. The Supreme Court judges ruled that the prohibition on gun ownership for individuals convicted of felonies withstood the “strict scrutiny” requirement of the 2012 amendment and said further that the needs of public safety allowed for no other ruling.