A New Orleans senator wants a violence prevention office. The gun lobby is pushing back.

Gun Rights

A Democrat state senator’s bid to create a violence prevention office amid a new permitless concealed carry law suffered a setback recently after pushback from his Republican colleagues and the gun lobby.

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Senate Bill 203 by Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, would establish an office of violence prevention under the Louisiana Department of Health. The office would aim to bring together stakeholders and use data to make communities safer, and would have to submit an action plan to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2026.

“We can save money by investing a little bit on the front end rather than spending more on the back end,” Duplessis told the Senate’s Judiciary C Committee this week.

But after gun rights advocates suggested the bill could be a sneaky way to attack the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the committee deferred the bill. That means it could come up for discussion again but did not advance to the full Senate.

“We do have concerns that this could be used to weaponize the government against Second Amendment rights,” Kelby Seanor, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, told the committee. He referenced the White House’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention, launched by the Biden administration, describing it as an agency that seeks to “strip Second Amendment rights.”

Duplessis pushed back, arguing that protecting the Second Amendment and preventing violence were not mutually exclusive.


State Senator Royce Duplessis, D-5, discusses SB203 during the the Senate’s Judiciary C committee on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

“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,” he said. “There’s nothing in this bill that’s going to get in the way of gun rights in the state of Louisiana.”

In an effort to address concerns, Duplessis amended his bill, which originally created an office of gun violence prevention, to remove the word gun. But he also told the committee, “We can’t be afraid to talk about gun violence, because gun violence happens.”

The amendment wasn’t enough to satisfy Sen. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, a Judiciary C Committee member who carried the concealed carry bill during a recent special session on crime. The bill lets Louisianans 18 and older carry a concealed handgun without a permit.


State Senator Blake Miguez, R-22, discusses SB203 during the the Senate’s Judiciary C committee on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

“Let’s stop this conversation about attacking the Second Amendment,” he said, arguing that the use of the term “gun violence”—which came up in testimony about the bill—amounted to such an attack.

On Thursday, Duplessis told a reporter he is considering further changes to his bill but is not sure what would satisfy the gun lobby.

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.

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