Know the Laws: Louisiana
UPDATED December 2, 2012
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.
Yes. 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 my 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:
It depends. If your Protective Order specifically says that your abuser cannot have a gun or buy a new gun, then s/he cannot have a gun. In LA, your order should automatically contain a notice of the Federal Firearm Prohibition that says that if your abuser has been given notice and the opportunity to attend a hearing and meets Federal law requirements, then your abuser cannot have or buy a gun.
In order for your Protective Order to qualify under Federal law, the defendant (person who the order is against) must:
Note: 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. The expiration date should be written at the bottom of the first and fourth pages of your Protective Order.
Note: This law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties. ** If your abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for their job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options. See LA State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
* 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
While it does not need to be written on your Protective order that your 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. Although LA Protective Orders automatically have a statement about the Federal Firearms Prohibition, Louisiana does not have a state law that specifically says that a person who has a Protective Order against him/her cannot own or buy a gun, which means it is not always clear to law enforcement officials that your abuser’s gun should be taken away when the Protective Order is issued. However, there are a couple steps you can 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 your abuser cannot keep his guns while the Protective Order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
Maybe. Your abuser does not have to come to the hearing in order for the law to apply to him, but 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.)
Yes, you will probably have to wait until you receive a long term Protective Order before your abuser’s gun is taken away. In LA, the judge cannot take away your abuser’s gun until your abuser has been given notice of and the opportunity to attend a hearing on the Protective Order.
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. Do I have legal options for getting the gun away from the abuser? 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 your 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 (NCIS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NCIS. Your local police department may be willing to search NCIS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.
To read more about the NCIS, please see the question, What will happen if my abuser tries to purchase a gun?
If you think your abuser is violating the federal firearm law, you can call your local police or sheriff department, the State Police, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Let them know that either you have a Protective Order against your abuser, or your abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor. In LA, if your abuser is only violating the Federal Firearms Prohibition and is not in violation of any state law, it is best to contact the ATF because many local law enforcement agencies cannot take your abuser’s gun unless s/he is breaking state law.
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our LA Sheriff Departments page.
There is an ATF field office located in New Orleans. Their contact information is:
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
428 E. Boston
Covington, LA 70433
For reporting illegal firearm activity: 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867)
There are also branch offices in Baton Rouge and Shreveport.
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 under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
Note: Generally, your abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for violating the law. If your abuser has a gun or buys a gun in violation of the law, your abuser can be arrested, whether or not your abuser knows he/she was in violation of the law.*
* United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039*; United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528
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 (NCIS). 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 NCIS, 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 your abuser is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee, then s/he might be able to continue to use their gun for work purposes, but not for personal use.
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 Full Faith and 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 under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this 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.
You can also contact the National Center on Full Faith and Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2