Louisiana is not overwhelmingly populated, but has the highest rate of gun deaths per capita.
So, there was this shooting in Lafayette. You probably heard about it. Lafayette is in my home state of Louisiana. I live not that far away in New Orleans. What happened in Lafayette was not an accident, and what happens in Louisiana in general are not accidents. The gun culture of America has taken over, and Louisiana is especially a victim of this.
Lafayette fortunately had less fatalities then other high-profile mass shootings, yet this is to be take in a different context. Louisiana is a state with the highest rate of gun deaths per capita. Let me spell it out clearly:
Louisiana is a state with a little over four-million people. Not a densely populated state in most areas, save Orleans Parrish. A state with about four million, however, has the second highest rate of gun death in the nation. Most of this centers in New Orleans, yet other parts of Louisiana have issues too. New Orleans alone suffers from terrible gun violence, murders happening so frequently it shocks no one in the city anymore. They only get more brazen too.
New Orleans, like its state, is not overwhelmingly populated. The city in fact has a little over 370,000 residents, much smaller then cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I compare these cities, because New York, Chicago, and L.A. are notorious for their crime and violence as a result. Yet, the rate of gun deaths in these cities are nowhere near comparable to New Orleans. In terms of the per-capita population, New Orleans scores much higher. This does not count overall deaths, only the rate of death visa-vi the population. Its horrifying, in scope.
Why does New Orleans have so much gun violence? Yes, many nuances and history of gangs and crime are to be taken into account. City crime is always complex to certain degrees. Yet, one of the major contributing factors in Louisiana is the fact that the availability of guns is much higher than in states like New York, Illinois, and California.
Louisiana has one of the most lax gun laws in the country. Gun sales are hardly regulated properly. You can buy a gun at a pawn shop quickly, provided you are 21 years old and have a Louisiana state ID. If that doesn’t work, well there are the gun shows that Louisiana has held.
The gun show loophole is problematic, and allows anyone to buy military grade firearms without proper background checks. As long as the cash is in hand, many retailers at these gun shows will sell guns if the buyer has proper ID or not.
Now who would show up to a gun show with thousands of dollars in cash, and not want a background check? Hmmm? Criminals, perhaps?
Then factor in Bobby “Louisiana Loves Guns” Jindal, governor of the state, who seems to sit deep in the NRA’s pocket. Under his terms in office, Jindal has regularly weakened gun safety regulations, and often appears at gun stores during his campaigning, to have pictures of himself with whatever the shop’s biggest rifle is.
Oh, but Bobby doesn’t know why or how this shooting happened in Louisiana. Yeah. Sure.
John Russel Houser bought his firearm in another state, but he could have easily done the same in Louisiana. While mental health is always an important factor, and one that cannot be discounted when discussing people like Houser, you can’t ignore the gun laws either. Or, more accurately, the absence thereof. The fact is, the coverage of the Lafayette shooting pisses me off.
New Orleans has multiple shootings in a day fairly often. Where is the hyped media coverage? Why does an incident in Lafayette draw everyone’s attention? Granted it was a tragedy, and in no way do I belittle the tragedy it is.
Yet, why is this one shooting garners national grief and attention? Why not the shootings that happen in New Orleans every day? I’m glad Louisiana is now being brought into the gun violence conversation, but why was it this one particular shooting that galvanized the nation? The shootings in New Orleans make the one in Lafayette look miniscule, and they happen much more frequently.
Louisiana has a gun problem, and the first areas to fix are its laws. One of the reasons this is such a problem is that guns are readily available, and law enforcement can do little about it (unless you’re black of course, then the 2nd amendment doesn’t apply for some reason). People like Houser are just the tip of the iceberg in my home state.