I’ll admit it. I love musical theatre. And I’m NOT a metrosexual. I grew up in a musical household (I’m a 5th generation professional), and musical comedy was a part of my life from birth. I’ve played bunches of musicals from the pit, and I’ve trod the boards as well. Hi, I’m Brad Kozak…you might remember me in the role of the Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. So it was not out-of-character for me to look forward to my first chance to see Spamalot, the Eric Idle-penned musical more-or-less based on the immortal Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And as is my custom, I planned to go packin’ . . .
That’s largely because the Strand Theatre is in downtown Shreveport. Due to a lack of parking, I knew we’d be in for a bit of a walk in a part of town that is considered, um, transitional. (That’s realtor-speak for “watch your backside…you’re likely as not to get mugged.”)
So I’m planning my little soiree downtown, and it occurs to me that I’d best read up on the conceal carry laws, both for the theater, and my anticipated aprés-show repast with milady fair at a local restaurant.
That’s when things got kinda blurry.
I obey the law. At least I try to. And I’m a big believer in the axiom, Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse. So I tend to look up stuff on the Internet when in doubt. Therein begins the problem. At least last night.
I did a quick Google search on “conceal carry laws Louisiana” and was greeted with the usual list of suspects in the search results. I tend to gravitate towards the official state websites (the “.gov”s), because laws change, and other sites are under no legal requirements to keep their data current.
The Louisiana state statutes are, well, clear as mud. That doesn’t necessarily come as a big shock. Laws are written by politicians and their minions, a group that has an undying affection for legalese. There’s a story I’ve read, I think it was by Arthur C. Clarke (but don’t quote me on that) about a guy who invents a machine that automatically translates legalese into plain English. As the story goes, the government buys up the machine and the patents, not to clarify things, but to run it in reverse, thereby saving the effort to obfuscate everything they do. But, I digress…
In reading the law, I realized that the Louisiana statute makes the Texas law look as though it was written by the same clear communicators that penned such classics as McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader and We See (Dick and Jane). To wit:
R.S. 40:1379.3 (N) states that no concealed handgun may be carried into and no concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Section shall authorize or entitle a permittee to carry a concealed handgun in any of the following:
- A law enforcement office, station, or building;
- A detention facility, prison, or jail;
- A courthouse or courtroom, provided that a judge may carry such a weapon in his own courtroom;
- A polling place;
- A meeting place of the governing authority of a political subdivision;
- The state capitol building;
- Any portion of an airport facility where the carrying of firearms is prohibited under federal law, except that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, if the firearm is encased for shipment, for the purpose of checking such firearm as lawful baggage;
- Any church, synagogue, mosque or similar place of worship;
- A parade or demonstration for which a permit is issued by a governmental entity;
- Any portion of the permitted area of an establishment that has been granted a Class A-General retail permit, as defined in Part II of Chapter 1 or Part II of Chapter 2 of Title 26 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.
- Any school “firearm free zone” as defined in R.S. 14:95.6.
The provisions of R.S. 40:1379.3 (N) shall not limit the right of a property owner, lessee, or other lawful custodian to prohibit or restrict access of those persons possessing a concealed handgun pursuant to a permit issued under this Section. No individual to whom a concealed handgun permit is issued may carry such concealed handgun into the private residence of another without first receiving the consent of that person.
Yep. Clear as mud. So what in the Hell is a “Class-A permit,” you may ask. Best I could figure out, it’s a liquor licence. (And they couldn’t just SAY that?) But what does that mean? Again, best I can tell, it either means you can’t carry in a restaurant where they sell liquor. Or not. I dunno. In Texas, they define a legal standard from a monetary perspective – you can’t carry in a bar, but you can carry in a restaurant, as far as said restaurant makes less than 50% of their revenue from the sale of liquor.
Can you legally carry in a restaurant? I don’t know. What about a theatre? They sell liquor in the lobby. Is carrying in a theatre kosher? Again, I dunno. So…I left my gun at home. Which left me and my date vulnerable to any Tom, Dick, or hairy thug who might decide we look like easy marks.
As for me, I have no desire to leave a theatre and re-enact the fate of the fictional Bruce Wayne’s parents. But I’d also find it unacceptable to end up incarcerated for carrying someplace that is forbidden.
Reciprocity is great – I’m seriously glad I don’t have to re-qualify for a CHL just because I’m not in Texas right now. But the fact that the nuances in the two states’ laws make it a real challenge to stay legal as I carry.
In my most perfect of worlds, I’d like to see either a Federal law that enables a baseline of features/rights/rules for conceal carry nationwide, or some kind of agreement between the states that would codify and standardize conceal carry laws – kind of a firearms version of the Universal Commerce Code regs.
Until then, I have to be extra-special careful whilst I’m still in Louisiana. And it’s just one more reason I can’t wait to get back to Texas.