If you look up “verbal diarrhea” in the dictionary there will most likely be an accompanying photograph of Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
This week, prior to his team’s game against the Detroit Lions, Allen boldly told the Minneapolis Star Tribune “I don’t like going to Detroit.” This was a fair, if somewhat tactless statement. Allen doesn’t have to like Detroit.
But Allen couldn’t just leave it at that. “It’s gloomy, it sucks,” Allen continued. “Everything is brown and then there is snow on the ground [evidently there is no snow on the ground in Minnesota]. There’s like brownstones everywhere and I’m like ‘Awesome.'”
Next, just in case he hadn’t already earned the title of “meathead jerk,” Allen said “If I had to live in Detroit, I think I’d just drown myself in the river that was across the way.”
After savaging Detroit with his rapier wit, Allen turned his attentions, inexplicably, to our own fair city of New Orleans. “New Orleans looks like I’m driving through a third world country. Every time I get off the plane I’m like, ‘Oh, flak jacket,’ I’m trying to get down. I’m like, ‘Ah, crap, I can’t carry my gun here. This sucks.'”
Normally, I wouldn’t bother to take the time and waste the ink (well, the bandwidth) to respond to a man so unbelievably dense that he thinks Detroit has “brownstones everywhere” (methinks he’s conflating Detroit with New York, not an easy mistake). However, there is one vicious slander in Allen’s words that invites, nay, requires a response. I am speaking, of course, of Allen’s claim that he “can’t carry [his] gun here.”
In fact, Louisiana has far less-restrictive gun laws than Minnesota, and a state-preemption statute bars localities from enacting stricter laws (with some exceptions). Heck, Minnesota doesn’t even recognize a right to keep and bear arms in its state constitution. Louisiana does.
It might be that Allen is under the misapprehension that his Minnesota concealed-carry permit would not be recognized in Louisiana. If so, he is wrong. Louisiana has a reciprocity agreement with Minnesota for concealed-handgun permits. Even if Allen doesn’t have a concealed-carry permit, Louisiana has another important feature that poor, misbegotten Minnesota lacks: a constitutional right to carry a firearm openly.
Louisiana first passed a statute prohibiting the concealment of weapons in 1813. The preamble to that statute made clear that was intended to address “assassination and attempt to commit the same,” which had become a common occurrence.
Later, when Louisiana drafted its bill of rights, it specifically included a right to keep and bear arms but specifically excepted laws banning concealed firearms. The current statute governing “illegal carrying of firearms,” Louisiana Revised Statute 14:95, requires “intentional concealment.”
The bottom line is that Louisiana has some of the freest gun laws in the country. In alleging that he could not carry here legally, Allen was speaking from his hind-quarters.
Still even from lies (or at least heapings of ignorance) can come a kernel of knowledge. Allen’s statements, though repugnant, are the product of preconceptions formed following Hurricane Katrina that still linger in the public consciousness.
Allen probably assumes that he can’t carry a firearm in New Orleans because of the notorious gun confiscations that took place in the aftermath of Katrina. Likewise, his comments about needing a flak jacket reflect fear from the violence that followed Katrina as opposed to the actual level of violence in this city today (which is generally comparable to other major urban areas).
Alas, moving forward New Orleans needs to confront and refute this all-too-common brand of ignorance. We’re not perfect, but New Orleans should own its shortcomings, not the biased imaginings of the likes of Jared Allen.
Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.