Court gives OK to juvenile concealed handgun ban

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana’s Supreme Court has upheld the state’s ban on possession of concealed handguns by juveniles, rejecting arguments that a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2012 prohibits the Legislature from enacting concealed weapon laws.

Tuesday’s opinion written by Justice Marcus Clark said the amendment does not prohibit sensible firearms regulation and that “common sense, science and social science” all hold that possession of a handgun by a juvenile is dangerous to the public.

The 2012 amendment says that any gun restriction in state law must be subject to “strict scrutiny” by the court - meaning the state carries a heavy burden to prove the restriction is necessary to meet a government interest, such as public safety.

The decision came in the case of a juvenile identified only as J.M., who cited the amendment in arguing that the state could not judge him delinquent because he possessed a handgun in violation of state law.

There were no dissenters. Justice Jefferson Hughes III had recused himself from the case. A retired state judge, Marion Edwards, sat in his place.

J.M. had challenged two state statutes dealing with intentional concealment of a handgun and possession of a concealed handgun by juveniles. Among his lawyers’ arguments: the 2012 amendment did away with constitutional language that expressly allowed the state to enact laws dealing with concealed weapons.

But that doesn’t mean the Legislature’s ability to restrict concealed weapons went away, Clark’s opinion said, citing the language in the new amendment itself, which reads in part: “Any restriction of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

That, said the opinion, means that “any restriction on the right to keep and bear arms, including those laws regarding the carrying of concealed weapons, must pass the requirements of strict scrutiny. There is no limitation on the phrase ‘any restriction.’”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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