“Let’s Focus on Louisiana, Too” — Louisiana Moms Demand Action Leader
NEW ORLEANS – In response to Governor Bobby Jindal’s call for tougher gun laws in other states, the Louisiana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement from gun violence survivor and volunteer leader Sara Cusimano:
“Governor Jindal, we are all shaken by what happened in Lafayette last week — and we agree that other states have a responsibility to strengthen their gun laws so that it isn’t easy for dangerous people to buy guns — but it’s important that our state stand up and do the same. Louisiana is the most dangerous state in the country when it comes to gun violence with a gun murder rate nearly three times the national average. We are still one of the states that has, shamefully, not closed the background check loophole — which means criminals, felons and the dangerously mentally ill can buy guns here, no questions asked. Let’s keep holding other states accountable for their lax gun laws — but let’s also take a good, hard look in the mirror and consider how Louisiana can put safety of Louisianans ahead of gun lobby interests right here at home.”
More Information on Louisiana Gun Laws
Louisiana does not require criminal background checks on all gun sales. Gun buyers in private, unlicensed sales can buy guns without passing a check. (Federal law requires a licensed dealer to run background checks on prospective buyers.)
- Eighteen states require background checks on all handgun sales. In states that require background checks:
- 46% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners
- 48% fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns[i]
States that do not require background checks for all gun sales are havens for traffickers looking to buy and sell guns with no questions asked. In states that require background checks, there is 48% less gun trafficking.[ii]
- In 2014 Louisiana exported 1,131 guns recovered in other states and successfully traced. Louisiana was the top out-of-state source of crime guns recovered in Texas (282 guns) and Mississippi (102 guns). As a whole, the state exported 24 guns per 100,000 residents — 50% above the national average of 15 guns per 100,000 residents.[iii]
As of July 20, 2015, there were 186 for-sale gun ads posted to Armslist.com by unlicensed sellers in Louisiana, all available for purchase with no background check required.
Default proceed / Charleston loophole:
- Federal law requires that licensed gun dealers run background checks on all gun buyers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a series of electronic databases run by the FBI.[iv]
- However, an NRA-backed provision added to the 1993 Brady Bill allows sales to proceed after three business days—even if background check operators have not confirmed the buyer is legally allowed to have guns.[v]
- On July 10, 2015, the FBI said the Charleston, SC shooter at the AME church was able to purchase the gun he used in the shooting because this “default proceed” period had elapsed—and the dealer made the sale even though the background check was not complete.
- At least 15 states give authorities longer than three days to complete a background check before allowing dealers to complete a sale, but Louisiana is NOT one of them.[vi]
Louisiana has enacted two positive domestic violence laws in the last two years. But loopholes in these laws continue to put women at risk.
- Because of the private sale loophole, domestic abusers can continue to arm themselves in private sales without a background check.
- Louisiana does not require that domestic abusers turn in their guns when they become prohibited. 2014 HB 753 bars domestic abusers from firearm possession or purchase 1) for a period of 10 years, if they are convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or 2) if they are currently subject to a final restraining order. However, Louisiana law does not require that abusers turn in the guns they already own when they become prohibited from having them—meaning that they may be able to go home from court and access the guns they already own to do further harm. Sixteen states require domestic abusers to turn in their guns after either a conviction or a final restraining order.
- Louisiana law fails to protect women from abusive boyfriends. 2015 HB 842 expands the class of victims covered by its domestic violence protections to include a broader set of family members and former cohabitants. However, Louisiana law generally does not protect victims who are not married to their abusers, even though in 2012 more intimate partner homicides were perpetrated by abusive boyfriends than by abusive spouses.
Mental Health Reporting:
- 2013 HB 717 requires state courts to report mental health records to the background check system for individuals who are prohibited under law from having guns—meaning that those prohibited people will not be able to pass a background check. The state also applied for and obtained federal grant funding to improve its record submission ($1,128,631 in 2013 and $1,165,559 in 2014).
- HOWEVER, the latest data obtained by Everytown from the FBI (December 31, 2014) indicates the state is still performing poorly in mental health record submission—having submitted only 908 records total (equal to only 2 percent the amount of records as the high-performing states, after controlling for population).
Concealed Handgun Permits:
Louisiana is one of two states that issues handgun permits that last for the lifetime of the holder.[vii] A holder of a lifetime permit must complete firearms training every five years, but the lack of a renewal process takes away an opportunity for the state to discover that a person with an active permit to carry hidden, loaded weapons, has subsequently committed a violent crime and thus become prohibited from possessing guns.
Stand Your Ground:
In 2006, Louisiana enacted a stand your ground law, providing that a person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, as long as the person is not engaged in unlawful activity and is in a place where he has a right to be.[viii]
States that pass Stand Your Ground laws see increases in homicide rates
- A 2012 study by researchers at Texas A&M found that Stand Your Ground laws are associated with a clear increase in homicides, resulting in 700 more homicides nationwide each year.[ix]
- A 2013 study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, found that justifiable homicide rates increased by 53% in states that passed Stand Your Ground laws, while they decreased by 5% in states without these laws.[x]
- Despite the assertions of Stand Your Ground supporters, the Texas A&M researchers found no evidence that Stand Your Ground laws deter crime.[xi]
In 2012, Louisiana became the first state to adopt a constitutional amendment forcing courts to evaluate firearm laws using the onerous “strict scrutiny” standard. At least one lower court in Louisiana subsequently found that Louisiana’s law prohibiting certain felons from possessing guns was unconstitutional. Fortunately, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed this ruling.[xii]
State Dealer Licensing:
Louisiana does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license to sell firearms. In August 2013, Louisiana repealed a law that allowed the state to have oversight of businesses selling certain types of guns in the state.[xiii]