Know the Laws: Louisiana
UPDATED September 23, 2015
Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws." The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.
One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.
If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.
It depends. If you have a protective order against the abuser, or if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor, then federal law states that it is illegal for the abuser to ever buy, own or have a gun in his/her possession.* There are certain requirements that your protective order must meet for it to qualify under federal law. See I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to read more about what those requirements are. If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors? To read the definition of a felony, see What is the definition of a felony?
In addition, if the abuser has committed one of the following crimes, Louisiana state law makes it illegal for him/her to possess a gun for a period of ten years from the date of completing the sentence, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence:
Note: This list summarizes the relevant crimes. For a complete list, please visit our LA Statutes page. In addition, federal law applies to all states, which prohibits a convicted felon from ever possessing a gun.
For additional reasons why a person would not be able to carry a concealed weapon under LA law, go to I do not have a protective order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Is there anything I can do?
* 18 USC § 922(g)(8),(9)
** LA R.S. 14:95.1(A),(C)
Maybe. You can ask the judge to write in your temporary order that the abuser cannot have a gun while you are waiting for a full court hearing on the long-term protective order. If there is no specific mention of a firearm restriction in the temporary order, then you may have to wait until you are given a permanent order.
There could be a slight possibility that it may be illegal under federal law to have a firearm while there is a temporary order of protection. If the judge gave you an ex parte temporary order of protection (which means that no advance notice was given to the abuser), which is commonly done, it could still be LEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law. However, if the judge scheduled a court hearing and gave notice of the hearing to the abuser before giving you the temporary order of protection, it is possible that it is ILLEGAL for him/her to have a gun under federal law.*** The order of protection must also meet certain other requirements, though. Read I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to find out more.
While waiting for the court to issue you a permanent order, you can take steps to keep yourself safe. Please see our Staying Safe page for information on keeping safe, especially in rural areas.
It depends. If your protective order specifically says that the abuser cannot have a gun or buy a new gun, then s/he cannot have a gun. However, even if this is not included as a term of your order, federal law may prohibit the abuser from having a gun. In order for your protective order to qualify under federal law, the defendant (person who the order is against) must:
If your protective order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under Federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply.
Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.** If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for his/her job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See our LA State and Local Programs page for local organizations.
* 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
While it does not need to be written on your protective order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun in order for the federal law to be enforced, it may make it easier if it is written. There are a couple steps you can take to try to take to help make this clear:
It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser's guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his guns while the protective order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
Maybe. The abuser does not have to come to the hearing in order for the law to apply to him/her, but s/he does have to be given notice of the hearing and an opportunity to attend.* If no hearing is scheduled, and/or no notice is given about the PO, then the federal firearm law might not apply to your abuser. **
* United States v. Bunnell, 106 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Me. 2000), aff'd 280 F. 3d 46 (1st Cir. 2002.)
** United States v. Spruill, 292 F. 3d 207 (5th Cir. 2002.)
No. Under federal law, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.* If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors? In addition, LA state law says that a conviction for various other crimes would also make it illegal for the abuser to have a gun.** See I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal? for a list of those crimes.
* 18 USC § 922(g)(9)
** LA R.S. 14:95.1(A)
A crime is considered a domestic violence misdemeanor under federal law if it:
Note: The crime does not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.** The relationship that the victim has with the offender is what determines whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence" misdemeanor.***
For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, he may no longer have or buy a gun. If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.
A felony under federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.* Under LA state law, a felony is any offense that can be punished by death or imprisonment at hard labor.**
* 18 USC § 3559
** LA R.S. 14:2(A)(4)
No. Law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law. *
* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.
To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?
If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our LA Sheriff Departments page.
You can find ATF field offices in Louisiana on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.
A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our LA State and Local Programs page.
Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.*
* United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)
Anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.*
In addition, if the abuser has committed one of the following crimes, Louisiana state law makes it illegal for him/her to possess a gun: a “crime of violence” which is a felony, various burglary crimes, manufacture of possession of a bomb or other incendiary device, possession of a firearm while possessing or selling a controlled dangerous substance, felony illegal use of weapons, any violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law (LA R.S. 40.961 et seq.) which is a felony, any crime defined as a sex offense, or an attempt to commit any of these above-listed offenses.** A person violating this law can be punished by 10 to 20 years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.*** An attempt to violate this law can be punished by a maximum of seven and a half years in prison and a fine of $500 to $2,500.***
* 18 USC § 924(a)(2)
** LA R.S. 14:95.1(A)
*** LA R.S. 14:95.1(B)
In Louisiana, there are a number of instances when carrying or possessing a firearm will be unlawful even if the abuser is not a convicted criminal and you don’t have a protective order against him/her. For example, it is unlawful for a person who is under 17 years old to possess a handgun, with some exceptions such as for hunting with a valid license, if the minor is on a parent or guardian’s property, or if s/he is off their property but has his/her parent’s written permission.* Another example is that it is unlawful for a student or non-student to carry a firearm on school property, at school-sponsored functions, or in a firearm-free zone, with some exceptions such as for law enforcement officers performing official duties.**
Moreover, Louisiana residents are required to possess a valid concealed handgun permit issued by the state of Louisiana in order to carry a concealed handgun.*** A person who has not been convicted of a crime (there are additional requirements for someone convicted of a crime) can qualify for a concealed handgun permit only if s/he meets all of the following criteria. S/he must
Before purchasing a gun, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). If your abuser has a qualifying protective order against him, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent your abuser from buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.
If your abuser is able to purchase a gun, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because your abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him to have one. The criminal background check system is not foolproof.
Maybe. If the abuser is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee, then s/he might be able to continue to use his/her gun for work purposes, but not for personal use, even if there is a protection order against him/her.
However, if your abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, your abuser cannot buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.* If you are confused or not sure whether your abuser can still use their gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2
To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our LA State and Local Programs page.
* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.