The voters of Louisiana approved an amendment to the state constitution strengthening the state’s gun rights back in 2012 with 73 percent of the vote. It also added the requirement that the court use the strongest level of judicial review, strict scrutiny, when reviewing Second Amendment cases. There’s a good discussion of the history behind the Louisiana amendment at the Volokh Conspiracy, by David Kopel. Following enactment of the amendment, courts have upheld bans on the possession of handguns by minors without parental approval and by felons on probation. The case that came up for oral arguments last week is a different matter, though. It’s one of those that people point to as showing the insanity of some gun laws . . .
Rico Webb, a 22 year old man with no criminal record until…well, theadvocate.com has the story:
Justices expressed mixed reaction as they heard oral arguments in the case of Rico Webb, a 23-year-old man who was caught in a car with one marijuana cigar in his backpack and a gun on the floorboard after New Orleans police pulled over his girlfriend for a broken taillight.
The gun was legal and Webb, who has no criminal record, normally would have faced only a fine and probation for misdemeanor possession after the September 2012 arrest. But the combination of the firearm and the marijuana became a felony that, under state law, carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of parole.
From the Volohk Conspiracy:
Under “strict scrutiny,” the burden of proof is reversed; the government bears the burden of proving that a gun control law is constitutional. To pass strict scrutiny, a law must be proven to serve a “compelling state interest” (not merely a “legitimate purpose”). Even if the law does advance a compelling state interest, the law is constitutional only if the government additionally proves that the law is “narrowly tailored” and is the “least restrictive means” to advance the compelling state interest.
The state maintains that the “compelling state interest” is public safety, which is unconvincing. The defense is quoted as claiming that the law is far too broad. I find that convincing, but wonder if the court will as well. Webb’s public defender got the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Watch this space.
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