One of the strictest gun crimes on the books in Louisiana was ruled invalid Thursday by a New Orleans criminal court judge in the wake of the state's powerful new 'right to bear arms' provisions.
District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny ruled that the law prohibiting felons from carrying firearms violated Louisiana new 'strict scrutiny' amendment to the state Constitution. The amendment, backed by heavy lobbying by the National Rifle Association, was adopted by a wide margin by voters last year and became effective Jan. 1.
The strict scrutiny amendment makes gun ownership a fundamental right that can only be regulated by meeting a very narrow set of standards upon review by the state Supreme Court.
Sure enough, the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office immediately appealed Derbigny's ruling, taking the case straight to the high court for a ruling.
The challenge to the longstanding felon-with-a-firearm law was one of several working its way through criminal court. The prohibition against felons carrying firearms carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Defense attorneys also lodged challenges to another widely used gun law the state's illegal possession of firearm statute. That law which basically prohibits possession of concealed gun without a permit has not yet been ruled on by a judge, but legal experts say it is also in jeopardy of being thrown out.
The case before Derbigny involved a man who was caught with a .40-caliber pistol and AK-47. The man, Glen Draughter, previously had been convicted of a felony burglary charge.
As a result of Derbigny's ruling, the charge against Draughter was thrown out. The DA's office has until Friday to decide whether to charge Draughter with a different gun crime.