Louisiana Democrats Want to Turn French Quarter Into 'Gun-Free Zone'

AP Photo/Max Becherer

The Constitutional Carry bill that's awaiting the signature of Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry will take effect on July 4th, but if Democrats get their way there's one area of the state that will be off-limits to lawful concealed carry, with or without a permit. Rep. Alonzo Knox unveiled HB 498 at a news conference with New Orleans officials on Friday, calling on his fellow legislators to prohibit concealed carry in the city's most popular tourism district. 


"I think it's something definitely worth exploring," said French Quarter resident Bob Simms. 

The gun-free zone will include the French Quarter, Downtown Development District and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

"We all want the city to be safer. We want the quarter to be safer. So, anything we can do to improve public safety," Simms said.

Well, no. Not anything. You still have to respect our constitutionally-protected liberties, and banning concealed carry in the French Quarter and the downtown development district (which is described as "the commercial and residential heart of New Orleans on the district's website) would trample all over our right to bear arms. 

The biggest problem with Knox's proposal is that, while the downtown business district and the French Quarter might be visited by millions of people every year, that alone isn't enough to make it a "sensitive place" where guns can be banned. There are certainly no additional security measures on the downtown boulevards or on Bourbon Street, save for the police officers who are regularly stationed there. It's an open area that's impossible to keep "gun-free", regardless of what the law might be, and lawful citizens have both the right and the need to be able to protect themselves in these places. 

HB 498 also contains no provisions whatsoever for those New Orleanians who live in the "firearm-free zone" that would be created. While the bill only touches on "public spaces", it would essentially negate the right to carry for anyone who calls downtown or the French Quarter home since they'd be committing a crime as soon as they walked out their door with a gun by their side.


If you work in either of these locations you'd be screwed as well. If I had an office in one of the downtown buildings I wouldn't want to walk to my car after working late without having my carry gun with me, but that too would be impossible to do legally if Knox and city officials get their way. 

What are the odds, though, that the Republican majorities who just approved Constitutional Carry will go back and create a carve-out for a large chunk of the state's biggest city? Not good, at least based on the comments of Sen. Blake Miguez, who was the prime sponsor of Constitutional Carry in the upper chamber. 

Miguez said Friday that he would be glad to hear out opponents, but isn’t a fan of watering down his bill. 

“I don’t generally support adding new gun-free zones because in theory the only people that have guns in gun-free zones are the criminals,” he said.

Kirkpatrick and other critics in New Orleans “don’t have as much of an appreciation for the Second Amendment as most of the individuals across the state do,” said Miguez, a champion marksman.

“The only thing that’s going to change in New Orleans is now the good guys are also going to be carrying guns, and not just the violent criminals," he added. "It’s just people who are uneasy. Everything is going to be fine."

Miguez points out that it's already a crime in Louisiana to carry while intoxicated. State law also prohibits concealed carry along parade routes like the ones that take place during Mardi Gras, so most of the concerns expressed by city leaders can be addressed through existing state statute. 


Knox's bill could be heard once the legislature's regular session begins a week from today, but I'd be surprised if it gets so much as a hearing in a House committee. If the GOP majority in the House and Senate were willing to entertain the notion of turning downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter into a "gun-free zone", we probably would have seen signs of that when Constitutional Carry was being debated over the past couple of weeks. There was no appetite to craft any new "gun-free zones" during the special session where Constitutional Carry was adopted, and my guess is that Knox's proposal isn't going anywhere in the regular session either. 

Join the conversation as a VIP Member