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NOPD brass plan to designate station as trade school, prohibiting concealed carry in surrounding area

Designating the station a school will allow officers to search people suspected of illegally carrying a gun in the downtown area, Commissioner Anne Kirkpatrick said

New Orleans Gun Laws

New Orleans’ 8th District Police station in the French Quarter on Monday, July 1, 2024. Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick said that the station is being designated a vocational-technical school because training of officers takes place in a classroom there. The designation means gun possession will be forbidden in a 1,000-foot radius of the building. The move comes as a new state law eliminates permit requirements for carrying a concealed handgun. (AP Photo/Kevin McGill)

Kevin McGill/AP

By Kevin McGill
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A police station in New Orleans’ French Quarter will be designated a vocational technical school in a move that will instantly outlaw gun possession in the surrounding area — including a stretch of bar-lined Bourbon Street — as a new Louisiana law eliminating the need for concealed carry firearm permits takes effect.

Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick announced the measure at a Monday news conference at the 8th District police station on the Quarter’s Royal Street. However, the move may face legal challenges. The state attorney general raised doubts about the plan.

State law forbids carrying concealed weapons within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of such a facility, Kirkpatrick said. That radius from the station will cover a large section of the Quarter, including several blocks of Bourbon Street.

Kirkpatrick said the station includes a classroom and is used for training. She described the station as a “satellite” of the city’s police academy.

“I wouldn’t call it a work-around,” District Attorney Jason Williams told reporters gathered in the lobby of the two-story, 19th century building. “It’s using laws that have always been on the books to deal with a real and current threat to public safety.”

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Designating the 8th District station a school is just one way of giving police officers more leeway to stop and search people suspected of illegally carrying a weapon in the Quarter, Kirkpatrick said.

She also listed other facets of state law that could allow the arrest of someone carrying a weapon in the tourist district. They include bans on carrying a gun in a bar or by anyone with a blood alcohol level of .05%. That’s less than the .08% considered proof of intoxication in drunk-driving cases.

State lawmakers earlier this year passed legislation to make Louisiana one of the latest states to do away with a permit requirement for carrying a concealed handgun. Past efforts to do so were vetoed by former Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. But the new Republican governor, Jeff Landry, supported and signed the new law.

Twenty-eight other states have similar laws, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

“Ultimately what we realized was, ‘You know what? What we need is a school,’” Moreno said.

Late Monday, Republican Attorney General Liz Murrill issued an emailed statement critical of the plan.

“I’m working hard to help keep New Orleans safe, but the City cannot avoid state law by unilaterally designating police stations ‘vo-tech locations’ — that’s just not how our community college and vocational-technical system is set up,” Murrill said.

Murrill also criticized city officials’ announcement that the law, which takes effect Thursday, won’t be enforced in New Orleans until Aug. 1, when an existing city firearms ordinance expires. “As to the delay, state law preempts municipal ordinances which conflict so the ordinance yields to state law,” Murrill said.