BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has launched a campaign to bring awareness to available resources to help victims of domestic violence.

Data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence shows that the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

Although Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation for domestic homicides, the state attorney general wants residents to know that there are laws to protect survivors from their abusers. A law passed in 2018 created what is known as the Firearm Divestiture Program.

Under Act 367, those convicted of a domestic violence felony or who have a domestic violence protective order against them cannot possess a firearm or purchase a new gun. Additionally, the law requires that domestic abusers surrender their weapons to the Sheriff’s Office or a third party with the approval and supervision of the Sheriff’s Office.

“The Attorney General’s Office will continue working with law enforcement to protect victims of domestic violence and ensure the rights of law-abiding citizens,” said the Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Coordinator Wanjennia Atkins. “Our office has consistently supported survivors and law enforcement, and we remain committed to these efforts.”

Some of the steps taken by the Attorney General’s Office to support domestic abuse victims include domestic violence training for law enforcement and collecting and delivering clothing to domestic violence shelters.

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The newest community education effort includes billboards, radio ads, and social media posts designed to raise awareness of the life-saving divestiture program.

“Obviously not all of these folks are just going to be like, ‘hey here’s my guns.’ So, we want victims to know –tell your prosecutor, tell law enforcement. There’s guns in the homes, there are guns that he owns so that we do know that we need to take those back,” Monica Taylor the Special Projects Coordinator with the Attorney General’s Office

Mariah Wineski, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, highlighted the importance of the awareness campaign.

“Louisiana has strong laws in place that require domestic abusers to transfer firearms out of their possession. Public awareness of these laws is crucial so that individuals know what protections exist and how to access them,” Wineski said.

For more information about the implementation of the Louisiana Firearm Divestiture Program, call your local Sheriff’s Office or your local Domestic Violence Center.