April 25, 2024

The state of Louisiana recently passed a permitless carry bill, and the anti-gunner lobby is already hard at work trying to limit gun ownership. The state Senate Judiciary Committee recently witnessed a heated debate over SB 203, a proposal that would establish an office of violence prevention, a move that has sparked suspicions over potential violations of the Second Amendment.

Similar to the White House’s new violence prevention office, this agency would be charged with curbing violent crime in the state. However, given the nature and timing of this proposal, some are concerned that it is merely a covert way to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. Republicans in the state legislature have stalled the measure for the time being.

State Sen. Royce Duplessis, a Democrat, proposed the bill, which would create the office under the Lousiana Department of Health. The agency’s stated aim would be to bring together various stakeholders to use data to make communities safer. The office would be required to submit an action plan to the state legislature by February 1, 2026.

Duplessis argued, “We can save money by investing a little bit on the front end rather than spending more on the back end.”

The bill would examine the multifaceted causes of gun violence, including socioeconomic factors like racism, poverty, lack of affordable housing, untreated trauma, and others. The objective is to address the root causes through community-specific strategies. The office would be managed by an individual appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The proposal is facing backlash from Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters. Kelby Seanor, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), expressed concerns that the bill would “weaponize the government against Second Amendment rights.”

Sen. Duplessis responded by proposing an amendment to the bill, removing the word “gun” from “gun violence prevention” to assuage these concerns. He said:

“We have a governor who, if this office were to be created, it would be under his administration. The last time I checked, this governor is very pro-Second Amendment. The last time I checked, this Legislature was very pro-Second Amendment.”

Nevertheless, the amendment has not eased worries about infringements on Second Amendment rights. State Sen. Miguez urged his colleagues to “stop this conversation about attacking the Second Amendment.”

At this point, it seems unlikely that Duplessis and his allies will come up with a proposal that wouldn’t trigger concerns about gun rights.

Still, even if Republicans manage to prevent Democrats from establishing the anti-gun office, the problem of violence still remains an issue in Louisiana.

SB 203 would cost the state between $750,000 and $800,000 a year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. However, that estimate could change after the bill was amended, because the original bill placed the office under the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

In 2023, a Tulane University study found that over half of Louisiana residents experience violence in their lifetimes. The state also has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation.

Currently, Duplessis’ bill appears to be dead in the water. As Louisanans grapple with the wave of violent crime, elected officials will have to come up with solutions that do not involve making it harder for residents to lawfully own firearms.