Late last month LOCAL learned that an Open Carrier was told by an Opelousas Police Officer that citizens were not allowed to Openly Carry firearms in the city of Opelousas. LOCAL contacted the Public Information Officer for Opelousas PD, Sgt Jody White asking for clarification of the law that they said bans Open Carry in Opelousas. We received the following reply,
Due to recent nationwide developments regarding the open carry of firearms and inquiries by the general public, I did a little research to help aid in your response to the public if questioned.
LARS 14:95 is the statute that clearly defines the illegal carrying of a weapon.
Attorney General Opinion No. 78-0795 states that there are no Louisiana state statutes that prohibit the open carry of firearms, BUT, City Ordinance Section 18-10 prohibits "a weapon or weapons concealed on or about the person". This would mean that one Cannot carry a weapon on his/her body. This will not pertain to legally issued "Louisiana conceal carry permits" that, under Louisiana Law, must be concealed. This ordinance does not allow any other carrying of a weapon.
Some will cite "LARS 40:1796 Preemption of state law" that they will use as justification to nullify local ordinance. That preemption statute is Date Specific as of July 15, 1985 and does NOT nullify the Opelousas City Ordinance due to the fact that LOCAL ORDINANCE PREDATES the preemption clause in that statute. They fail to include that little detail in "Frequently Asked Questions". If you encounter questions regarding open carry, you should advise the public that they need to check local ordinances for open carry laws before making a decision to open carry. This jurisdiction prohibits open carrying of a weapon.
Contact the City of Opelousas Records Section at 337-948-2520 for copies of City Ordinances."
So we contacted the city Records Department and received this copy of their 18-10 code-
"18-8.1 OPELOUSAS CODE § 18.10
Sec. 18-10. Weapons-Carrying concealed.
Whoever shall carry within the corporate limits of the city, a weapon or weapons concealed on or about the person, such as pistols, bowie knives, dirks, razors, or any other dangerous weapons, shall on conviction thereof, suffer fine or imprisonment, the fine not to be less than fifty dollars ($50.00), nor more than one hundred dollars ($100.00), and imprisonment not to be less than ten (10) days nor more than thirty (30) days, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the city judge, provided that the provisions of this section shall not apply to sheriffs, and their deputies, constables, city police officers and the city marshal, when in the actual discharge of their official duties. (Ord. No. 1, § 1,1-19-23)"
The code that Officer White cites clearly covers only the carrying of CONCEALED weapons. This law has nothing to do with openly carrying a firearm or other weapon. Officer White and the Opelousas PD are using an old law banning people from carrying concealed weapons to prevent the lawful exercise of open carry. This is dishonest and corrupts the law as it is written.
Officer White also made the point to state that some fail to address preemption in FAQs and tells us that we should advise the public to check local ordinances before open carrying. Since 2009 LOCAL has been making citizens aware of the right to open carry in Louisiana. We have always advised citizens to research local and parish laws as well as State laws. We have addressed the partial preemption that we live under numerous times. We find it hypocritical that a Law Enforcement Officer who is misapplying a city ordinance to ban a constitutionally protected right feels it is necessary to remind us to tell people about following the law.
LOCAL encourages you to stand up for your rights. Contact the Opelousas Police Chief, the Mayor and City Council members and tell them that illegally enforcing a ban on the constitutional right to openly carry a firearm for self defense puts citizens in danger from criminals as well as police officers who are enforcing this ban. Citizens not only face being detained or arrested but could be injured or killed by responding officers. The City could be subjected to lawsuits resulting from arrests under this ordinance. Tell the officers of the Opelousas Police Department that they are wrong and you know better.