The Louisiana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement in response to a shooting early Sunday morning in Baton Rouge. According to reports, twelve people were shot and wounded inside of The Dior Bar and Lounge in downtown Baton Rouge. Three sustained life-threatening injuries. Reports indicate that the attack is thought to have been targeted.
“Our communities are reeling from the events of the weekend, and our hearts go out to those affected,” said Angelle Bradford, a volunteer with the Louisiana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “No one should have to fear for their lives on a night out. Senseless tragedies like this one will continue to occur until our leaders step up and take meaningful action on gun safety, including funding community violence intervention programs across the state.”
“Time and time again, it is my generation that pays the price for our lawmakers’ inaction – and we’ve had enough of it,” said Elizabeth Laurent, a volunteer with Students Demand Action at Louisiana State University. “We deserve to be safe in our communities – and you better believe we will be fighting harder than ever for the safer Louisiana we all deserve.”
An Eventbrite listing online indicates the club was hosting a “back to school party” for Southern University and A&M College – a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) – and Louisiana State University students at the time of the shooting. This tragedy isn’t isolated. There have been multiple incidents of gun violence on and around HBCU campuses in recent months, especially around Homecoming season. Just last October, nine people were wounded in a shooting at the Kappa Alpha Psi house just off of Southern University’s campus.
The events of this past weekend underscore the need for bolstered gun violence prevention measures across Louisiana — a state with weak gun laws and staggeringly high rates of gun violence. However, instead of taking the steps to address this public health epidemic, state and local lawmakers continue to put politics over policy. Last legislative session, over objections from gun safety advocates, gun violence survivors, faith leaders, and other key public safety stakeholders, the Louisiana legislature passed permitless carry, a dangerous policy that has been shown to increase gun violence in other states. Fortunately, Louisian Governor John Bel Edwards vetoed the bill, preventing permitless carry from becoming law in the state.
This upcoming legislative session, lawmakers must show up for the people they represent and prioritize investing in Community Violence Intervention programs. These community-led programs have been shown to reduce gunshot woundings and deaths in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.
Louisiana has weak firearm laws, scoring only 20.5 out of 100 for gun law strength while maintaining the second highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. In an average year, 1,036 people are killed by guns in the state and 2,936 more are wounded. Louisiana bears the sixth highest per resident cost of gun violence in the nation at $3,085 per person each year. More information about gun violence in Louisiana is available here.