Mark Edward Marchiafava did not break the law in Gonzales, La. on January 28, 2006. But nonetheless, he was handcuffed, arrested, and his firearm, which he was legally carrying in the open on his side was confiscated and not returned.
I don't know Mr. Marchiafava very well. We have had several email communications, but nothing more than that. We have not always agreed, and sometimes our discussions got heated. But what I do know is that Mr. Marchiafava's right to keep and bear arms and his property rights were violated by the Gonzales, La. police.
When I deployed with the National Guard to New Orleans in support of relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina, I remember a meeting on an abandoned tarmac (where we slept the night before inside our humvee) with the Louisiana JAG. We were informed, in no uncertain terms, that open carry was legal in Louisiana, that we were there to help enforce the laws of Louisiana, and the law stated the people had a right to keep and bear arms. He were told that unless we witnessed a crime being committed, under no circumstances were we to relieve people of their firearms if they were carrying them in the open.
The Army and Air National Guard understand this. I wonder how brainless the Gonzales cops have to be to not get this simple concept.
In Mr. Marchiafava's own words:
After meeting my youngest daughter, Christie, and my adopted daughter, Kelly, along with Kelly's 2 year old daughter, Isabella, Kelly drove us to Gonzales, La. to visit my oldest daughter, Michelle. Needing to pick up something, I asked Kelly to drive into Tanger Factory Outlet. She dropped me off in front of the store, I ran in and out in less than 2 minutes while Kelly circled the parking lot.
While waiting to check out, I noticed an older guy standing right outside, staring intently at me. I KNEW he was either an off duty cop or he had just CALLED the cops on me. Yes, I WAS openly carrying a gun, which is quite legal in Louisiana. The state constitution CLEARLY states so. It does, however, retain the right by the state to regulate concealed carry, something that doesn't come into play here.
Sure enough, as I was paying, a Gonzales police car came cruising by slowly. After exiting the store with my purchase, I got into Kelly's car and within seconds, the cop turned on his lights and blipped his siren. Kelly exited and the cop told her it was ME he wanted to talk to.
Carefully, I approached officer Rome, and he asked why I was wearing a gun. After telling him EVERY citizen had that right, he just stood there, speechless.
I asked if he was aware of that, but STILL there was no answer.
It took THREE further queries before he finally answered, "No, I didn't know that."
Seemingly satisfied, he handed my driver's license back to me, and I heard him tell headquarters to print him out a copy of my driver's license info. At that point, I knew "they" were about to do "something." I got back into Kelly's car, not wanting to alarm them.
Sure enough, as soon as we exited the center's parking lot, FOUR Gonzales cop cars swooped in and, in true TV cop fashion, with guns drawn and lots of loud shouting.
I slowly exited the car, hands away from my side. Yes, I was roughly handcuffed to the point of having red marks on both wrists 3 hours later. I was transported to Gonzales Police headquarters. There, Officer David Breaux was trying to figure out just what to charge me with. Since he was holding Louisiana revised statutes, title 14 (criminal code) in his hands, I suggested he read 14:95, "Illegal carrying of weapons," which he did.
I tried, in vain, to explain to him there is nothing in the entire book which prohibits anyone from openly carrying a weapon in Louisiana.
His response: "Tell it to the judge."
Another "officer," Billiot, transported me across the Mississippi river to the jail in Donaldsonville. On the ride over, I tried to explain to HIM what the law states and the rights of any citizen.
He said, and I quote, "I don't care what the laws or the Supreme Court say. WE are NOT going to have people running around, wearing guns, with women and children everywhere."
I was fingerprinted, photographed and released on a $200.00 bond. Yes, all this for a MISDEMEANOR and a $200.00 bond. I am still trying to retrieve my gun at this date.
Now, let's take a look at what the law says.
Louisiana state constitution
Article 1 sec. 11 Right to Keep and Bear Arms
The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.
Louisiana Revised Statutes
Title 14 sec. 95
Illegal Carrying of Weapons
A. Illegal carrying of weapons is:
(1) The intentional concealing of any firearm, or other instrumentality customarily used or intended for probable use as a dangerous weapon, on one's person, or
(2) the ownership, possession, custody, use of any firearm, or any other instrumentality customarily used as a dangerous weapon, at any time by an enemy alien, or
(3) the ownership, possession, custody or use of any tools, or dynamite, or nitroglycerine, or explosives, or other instrumentality customarily used by thieves or burglars at any time by any person with the intent to commit a crime ; or
(4) the manufacture, ownership, possession, custody or use of any switchblade knife, spring knife or other knife or similar instrument or having a blade which may be automatically unfolded or extended from a handle by the manipulation of a button, switch, latch or similar contrivance.
(5)(a) the intentional possession or use by any person of a dangerous weapon on a school campus during regular school hours or on a school bus. "School" means any elementary, secondary, high school, or vo-tech school in this state and "campus" means all facilities and property within the boundary of the school property. "School bus" means any motor bus being used to transport children to and from school or in connection with school activities.
(b) the provisions of this Paragraph shall not apply to:
(i) a peace officer as defined by RS:14:30(B) in the performance of his official duties.
(ii) a school official or employee acting during the normal course of his employment or a student acting under the direction of such school official or employee.
(iii) any person having the written permission of the principal or school board or engaged in competition or in marksmanship or safety instruction.
United States Code, title 42, chapter 21, subchapter I, sec. 1983
Civil action for deprivation of rights
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any state or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, priviliges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purpose of this section, any act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.
UPDATE FEB. 6TH, 2006
District Attorney, Tony Falterman, obtained a copy of the arrest report and, after reading it, dismissed the charge. According to his assistant, Melissa, "Mr. Falterman has read the report and considers it complete BS."
A local reporter, Steve Ward with the Advocate, contacted chief of police Bill Landy concerning my arrest. According to Steve, the chief stated "We have a policy of arresting anyone carrying a gun without a permit. We don't care what Mr. Falterman says or does."
I attempted to retrieve my gun, only to find out the Gonzales police department has a "policy" of sending all seized weapons to the state police crime lab for ballistics testing.
So let's get this straight. A man broke no law. He is arrested. His property is confiscated. The prosecutor recognizes this case as complete crap. The police will not give back property, even though no crime was committed.
Check out the letter Mr. Marchiafava received from the prosecutor in the case below.
What kind of circus are they running down there in Gonzales?
Should you want to contact the fascist nazis on Mr. Marchiafava's behalf -- and on behalf of our constitutionally guaranteed rights -- please do so. The Gonzales Police Chief's name is Bill Landry. You can email him here: email@example.com
Or if you're feeling particularly angry about this, give him a call and demand to know why a man who has committed no crime has been relieved of his property by his tyrannical staff, and why his officers have no respect for the laws they have sworn to enforce. His number is: 225-647-2841