What happens at the Federal level stands to alleviate or exasperate the current gun violence epidemic that Louisiana’s citizens endure every day. There are currently a number of pieces of legislation that intend to accomplish the latter. The federally mandated concealed carry, HR 38/S 446 is a set of bills under which the current Louisiana firearms permitting system would be completely eradicated – what few protections we do have would become nonexistent. For example, currently domestic abusers are barred from the possession of a firearm under the current law. However, with these bills in place, someone with a known and well documented history of domestic violence and abuse would be free to carry a weapon.
In light of all the tragic school shootings of our nation’s past you may be surprised to hear that a current proposal plans to repeal gun – free zones, HR 34; meaning that citizens would be allowed to carry weapons onto school campuses from kindergarten to high school. The proposed veteran’s mental health records removal, HR 1181 would remove over 170,000 mental health records from the background check system. These records currently prohibit severely mentally ill veterans from purchasing firearms, as the veteran population is at a high risk of suicide in comparison to the general population. In addition, deregulating silencers, HR 367/S 59 is a bill created under the pretense of protecting our sense of hearing would, in reality, make it easier for criminals to obtain silencers. When silencers are used in violent crimes, it makes the jobs of law enforcement officials much more perilous and difficult. Instances of gun violence are often discovered swiftly because the sound of gunfire is reported to the police or picked up by gunshot detection systems. Silencers are now readily available to any interested persons who passes a background check so, this bill would in essence simply provide an avenue which allows easy access of silencers for those who can’t pass a background check.
In contrast, Senator Markey of Massachusetts has recently introduced legislation that would work to address the public health issue that is gun violence. The proposed bill would set aside funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to conduct or support research on firearms safety and gun violence prevention.
Make an effort to stay informed on the current proposed federal legislation as well as proposed legislation in your home state. As always, never hesitate to contact a representative regarding your stance on said legislation – they are here to represent the needs of their constituencies.
At first glance, America’s gun violence epidemic can seem overwhelming as there were more than 13,000 gun homicides in the United States in 2015 alone. According to a recent geographic analysis by the Guardian, these murders were scattered throughout 3,500 cities across the nation. What may come as a surprise to many is that half of these homicides can be linked to just 127 cities and towns – even when they contain less than a quarter of the nation’s population.
This violence is then further condensed into much smaller neighborhoods – those that contain a mere 1.5% of the population but a startling 26% of gun homicides. To put things in perspective, the average American is 25 times more likely to fall victim to gun violence than those in other developed nations but, those living in these neighborhoods face a rate 400 times higher. Homicide rates have just recently mapped down to the census tract level, thanks to the data collected by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). GVA is a not for profit corporation formed in order to provide public access to accurate gun-related violence in the United States – it is here that you can find how gun deaths vary by congressional district.
Tragically the neighborhoods that face the biggest issues with gun violence are those already burdened with poverty, high unemployment rates and failing schools. These facts hold true for the city of New Orleans – with great disparities among violence rates throughout different neighborhoods. 22% of New Orleans census tracts saw multiple gun homicides, and these areas were responsible for more than 75% of the murders – a fact that quite literally, hits close to home.
The Department of Justice recently released the ATF Firearms Trace Report of 2015. This report is created in order to track the possession and sale of specific firearms. This year’s report for Louisiana contained some shocking statistics, from which some very interesting conclusions can be drawn. Almost 8,000 firearms were recovered and traced in Louisiana in 2015, with the majority of these weapons being pistols and revolvers. Expectedly, the bulk of these weapons were recovered in New Orleans, with Baton Rouge falling closely behind.
The mass majority, being 80%, of these firearms were sourced from Louisiana itself. Now, this statistic alone may not hold much significance. But, what we must keep in mind is that Louisiana has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation. Now, you may ask does regulation really matter in this case? Well, all the numbers point to yes. In states with heavier regulation, such as Massachusetts, less than half of the weapons traced originated instate. Thus, supporting the idea that stronger regulation does in fact limit the number of firearms sourced from a state. To even further the point we must note that Massachusetts is among the five states with the lowest gun death rates, while Louisiana holds the number two spot.
The results are in, newly available data from 2015 has revealed that Louisiana has the second highest gun death rates in the nation with 20.38 gun deaths per 100,000. That is only 3.6 deaths per capita short of the number one spot – in a competition you don’t want to win.
Nationwide the gun death rate has risen 7% from 2014 and Louisiana is contributing more than its fair share to this statistic. Sadly, this firearm death rate was largely due to increased firearm homicides – where 17.8% more lives were lost in 2015 than the previous year. Many may wonder how the citizens of Louisiana could allow this to happen? Well it’s not surprising that Louisiana has some of the laxest gun laws in the United States. People love to argue that this does not effect gun death rates in the least, but the facts prove otherwise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control released data showing that time and time again stronger gun laws correlate with lower gun rates while the opposite correlation of lax laws and high death rates proves to be just as true.
So now you may ask, how do we save our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens from the dangers of gun violence? What can we do to reverse these rising death trends? The answer is simple: Stronger gun regulations. We need to keep guns out of dangerous hands, it is essential for decreasing gun death rates not only within our state boarders but across the nation. For more on the CDC’s most recent data, see the report by the Violence Policy Center.