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Trend in gun violence sparks national attention

Law+enforcement+and+other+emergency+personnel+respond+to+the+scene+of+a+shooting+at+the+Grand+16+movie+theater+on+Thursday%2C+July+23%2C+2015%2C+in+Lafayette%2C+La.+
Law enforcement and other emergency personnel respond to the scene of a shooting at the Grand 16 movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

Law enforcement and other emergency personnel respond to the scene of a shooting at the Grand 16 movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

Leslie Westbrook/MCT Campus

Leslie Westbrook/MCT Campus

Law enforcement and other emergency personnel respond to the scene of a shooting at the Grand 16 movie theater on Thursday, July 23, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

Jamal Melancon

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A violent trend of gun use is on the rise, bringing national attention to stories like the recent theater shooting in Lafayette and local shootings in the French Quarter.

Keevy Narcisse, history senior, was at the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette just a day before the shooting on July 23.

“No one expects it to happen to their community in a place that a lot of people feel is a safe space,” Narcisse said.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ data, firearm-related homicides have been on a 39 percent decline from 1993 to 2011, but the majority of the decline in both fatal and nonfatal firearm victimizations only occurred in the decade from 1993 to 2002.

Determining whether or not gun violence is more of an issue now than previously must take into mind that gun laws differ across the state and federal government, LUPD Captain Roger Pinac explained.

“It’s not an issue of the gun laws not working; it’s how they’re enforced,” Pinac said. “That’s really the crux of the matter.”

According to George E. Capowich, criminology professor at Loyola, an issue also arises in whether or not laws should be used as a tool to deter violence.

Capowich is involved as a research partner and evaluator for a continuing law enforcement program called Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods, a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement designed to reduce violence and murder.

“Reducing violence is not really a matter of law and prison sentences,” Capowich said. “We know that these do not deter violence.”

Besides differing gun laws, varying perceptions and experiences with guns can have an impact on the initial response entire communities have from gun violence.

Pinac recalled a case years ago where students used an airsoft gun in a vehicle on Freret Street to demand a wallet. They didn’t take the wallet and took off laughing instead. The students were arrested and spent several weeks in jail for committing an armed robbery.

“I tell kids don’t bring play-guns. They look too much like the real thing; policeman can’t tell the difference,” Pinac said.

About 70 percent of all homicides were due to firearm violence from 1993 to 2011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. About 70 to 80 percent of firearm homicides were committed with a handgun during the same time period.

Pinac, originally from Lafeyette, said he used to get depressed by how frequent fatal gun violence was when he first started working in New Orleans. He observed that the city has a high rate of both gun violence and murder, but overtime, people become desensitized to the outstanding number of incidents.

“I think it really should illicit a stronger reaction,” Pinac said.

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About the Writer
Jamal Melancon, Senior Staff Writer
Two international opera stars, Irini Kyriakidou and Bryan Hemel, launched the opera season at Loyola by giving a master class each, prior to a performance in Roussel Performance Hall.
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Trend in gun violence sparks national attention