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Louisiana leads nation in rate of mass shootings in 2022

New Orleans Police respond to a homicide scene on April 22, 2022.
Leslie Gamboni for the Gulf States Newsroom
New Orleans Police respond to a homicide scene on April 22, 2022.

In the first six months of 2022, Louisiana’s per capita rate of mass shootings has far outpaced any other state and is nearly six times the national average, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, Louisiana — which ranks 27th in population size — has experienced 16 mass shootings, trailing only California, 20, and Texas, 21. Louisiana’s mass shooting incidents have left nearly 80 people injured and nine people dead.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident “with a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured." There’s no uniform or official definition of a mass shooting, though many groups use similar parameters as the Gun Violence Archive.

Louisiana’s mass shootings have taken place across the state. In Lafayette, twelve people were injured after a shooting involving multiple suspects and officers. In New Orleans, gunfire directed at a bar on Magazine Street left six injured this past April. Ten people were shotin Bogalusa after a Mardi Gras parade in March. Nearly half of the mass shooting incidents this year have taken place in the state’s major metro areas: Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Both cities have seen a surge in gun violence and homicides this year, following a nationwide trend in spikes of violent crime.

Louisiana’s high rate of gun violence isn’t new. A 2021 New York Times article noted that Louisiana had led the nation in murder rates for the past three decades. The article highlights the state’s high poverty rates, high incarceration rates and its “inheritance of violence.”

Another driver of gun violence: easy access to firearms.

“Lots of illegal or stolen weapons, an illegal system in trafficking in weapons, plus drugs and narcotics, produce this lethal mixture,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and former New Orleans mayor, in the 2021 article.

Louisiana also has some of the least-restrictive gun laws in the country. Earlier this month, state lawmaker Danny McCormick (R-Oil City) introduced a bill to allow adults 21 and older to carry a concealed gun without requiring a permit or training. The proposal has won support in both the House and Senate. According to the Daily Advertiser, McCormick said this week that removing the requirements "won't turn us into the wild, wild West."

It’s unclear whether this week’s deadly mass shooting incident in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead, will impact the fate of any of the proposed gun laws advancing in the state legislature.

Patrick Madden joined WWNO in 2019 as its first-ever Regional News Director, overseeing news reporting at WWNO, as well as our partner station WRKF Baton Rouge. Madden also serves as one of the hosts of Louisiana Considered, and co-hosts Friday's Politics Roundtable on Louisiana Considered with Stephanie Grace, columnist for The Times-Picayune | The Advocate.