BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA/WWL) - Off-duty law enforcement all over Louisiana are technically breaking the law when they enter restaurants and bars with their firearms.
That's the opinion of Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, which he laid out in a 5 page response to Louisiana Representative Henry Burns' request for clarification on the law.
Caldwell issued a 5 page opinion on Monday in support of current state law prohibiting off-duty officers from bringing guns into establishments that serve alcohol unless they are officially on the clock.
"Obviously alcohol and firearms don't mix," explains Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino. "That's the reason this statute was passed in the first place."
"The AG's opinion, I think, is a reasonable one in the sense that if an officer is going in as a patron to drink, he shouldn't go in with his fire arm," says Ciolino. "But if he's going to go in to enforce the laws and protect the public then he can go in with his firearm."
But organizations representing law enforcement officers say not being able to remain armed, even if they are off-duty, puts their safety at risk.
"There have been numerous cases where officers have been retaliated against," says Donovan Livaccari with the New Orleans Fraternal Order of Police, and that's why they're pushing for a change in the law. "We're in favor of officers being able to carry firearms in restaurants and we're also in favor of responsible gun ownership."
State Representative Henry Burns feels the current law, R.S. 14.95.5, unfairly targets police officers. That's why he filed House Bill 48 in the last legislative session, in an effort to clarify the existing law.
The law would have made sure police officers are allowed to carry their guns into some restaurants while having lunch, or even when they're off duty. "If he's out in the public and even when he's in his off duty time, people still identify that individual as a law enforcement officer," said Burns.
The bill ultimately failed, as have other attempts to make similar changes to the law.
In spite of that, and the AG's opinion, efforts will likely be made next session to change the current law. "I think we would like to try again. What we always have to be (is) careful. This is obviously a touchy subject and gun rights evoke all types of responses from people."