According to The Times-Picayune, a staggering number of shootings have taken place in New Orleans over the past few weeks, leaving seven people dead and dozens more wounded. On July 25 alone, five people were shot in the city, including two children. Days later, three people were killed and seven injured in a single shooting.
Unfortunately, this news isn’t unusual in New Orleans, a city that has struggled with an epidemic of gun violence for years. In fact, New Orleans has the third highest homicide rate among major U.S. cities. According to the New Orleans Police Department, 90 percent of homicides in the city between 2010 and 2016 were carried out with firearms. Although local officials have taken action to reduce gun violence, their hands are tied by a burdensome state law that largely prevents them from passing gun violence prevention measures specific to New Orleans.
Under current state law, political subdivisions like New Orleans are generally prevented from implementing their own gun violence prevention ordinances. So, the mayor and city council – the officials best suited to understand local gun violence and how to address it – are unable to pass public safety measures to keep their communities safe.
Last legislative session, a bill – SB 185 – was introduced that would have allowed New Orleans to pass local ordinances to prevent gun violence. Unfortunately, lawmakers failed to vote on the bill. If leaders in Baton Rouge are serious about empowering officials in New Orleans to do more to prevent gun violence, they should reintroduce and pass similar legislation next session.