Judge Strikes Down Baton Rouge Law Banning Guns Where Alcohol Is Sold

According to The Times-Picayune, Chief US District Judge Brian Jackson issued an order on Monday overturning a city-level ordinance in Baton Rouge that banned the possession of firearms on the property of any establishment where alcohol is sold. The particular ordinance in question went further than the typical civic ban on guns in bars by additionally banning guns anywhere alcoholic drinks of any kind are sold in any way, including grocery stores, gas stations, and the parking lots of those establishments. Judge Jackson cited the Second Amendment to the US Constitution as a part of the rationale behind his decision.

In the case in question, Earnest Taylor was pulled over in October of 2012 for forgetting to turn his headlights on after leaving a local bar. During the stop, he voluntarily informed officers that he had two lawfully-owned rifles in his car, and, even though he had not carried them into the bar, was arrested for having had them in his car in the bar’s parking lot. The Times-Picayune quotes the Judge’s order as saying, “When [Taylor] explained to [the officers] his understanding that he was allowed to carry the guns inside of his vehicle, the officers responded that there was a ‘new law’ that made it illegal for anyone to possess a firearm in the parking lot of an establishment that sold alcohol.”

Judge Jackson argued that the ordinance violates citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by banning the possession of firearms inside vehicles in locations that merely sell alcohol without allowing it to be consumed on the premises, including places like grocery stores, gas stations, and their parking lots. He also pointed out the fact that the ordinance effectively banned the sale of firearms at Walmart, as anyone purchasing one there would be violating the law.

In presenting his case, Taylor indicated that, despite the fact that he had not carried the weapons into an establishment serving alcohol, he had been arrested and his guns had been seized. Since anyone driving around the city might have to stop at a gas station where alcohol is sold, the law would give officers the discretion to apply the ordinance to virtually any law-abiding gun owner carrying a firearm in his or her car.

It is worth noting that Judge Jackson’s order and Taylor’s case did not address state and city-wide bans on the possession of guns inside establishments like bars that serve alcohol by the drink. Those restrictions remain on the books. However, Judge Jackson issued an order prohibiting police from enforcing Baton Rouge’s far-reaching law that expanded that ban to include grocery stores, gas stations, and parking lots of places that sell alcohol.

The Judge directed the city to return Taylor’s firearms and to pay an as-yet undetermined amount of monetary damages, which will be calculated in a future hearing.