NEW ORLEANS-- Louisiana voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment No. 2 in November. It involves gun rights and nearly 75 percent voted in favor of it.
"The Constitutional amendment said that the courts are to look at that fundamental right, that is the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, in the same light as free speech, in the same light as racial equality," said Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Donald "Chick" Foret.
That same light is known as "strict scrutiny." It's the highest level of judicial scrutiny judges can apply to a law and, because of that, the new amendment may be having a side effect in some criminal cases. On Thursday, Orleans Criminal Court Judge Darryl Derbigny ruled that one gun law-- which prohibits felons from carrying guns-- was unconstitutional, based on the new amendment.
Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro decried the ruling.
"The judge has basically said, by declaring this statute unconstitutional, that even though you have a felony conviction and it is for a crime of violence, you still have a right to carry your gun on the streets of this city," Cannizzaro said.
The Orleans Public Defenders Office said the newer, stricter scrutiny of the state's gun laws will be something they argue on behalf of some of their clients.
"Certainly, the standard applies to all gun laws-- whether they'll all face new challenges, I don't know," said Colin Reingold of the Public Defenders Office. "But it would be our position that our clients deserve the same protection of the Constitution."
That means more challenges to other gun laws in the state could be on the horizon. The Orleans District Attorney's Office plans to appeal Thursday's ruling to the Louisiana Supreme Court.