BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — In a push to combat domestic violence, Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office is kicking off an awareness campaign so victims know what protections exist and how to access them.

East Baton Rouge broke records in 2020 and 2021 for domestic violence deaths. There has been an upward trend since the start of the pandemic, and while gun violence is going up at an alarming rate the attorney general’s office is hoping this step will create more public awareness and save more lives.

Louisiana in 2021 was ranked fifth in the United States in domestic violence homicides,” said Special Projects Coordinator Monica Taylor. “We’re really hoping that it brings the number of domestic violence homicides down.”

The office’s community education campaign aims to let Louisiana citizens know there are laws to protect survivors from their abusers. Taylor said their office’s latest efforts will raise awareness of the live-saving divestiture program with billboards, radio ads, and social media posts. 

“In 2018, the legislature passed a law that said if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime or you’re served with a domestic violence permanent protective order that you have to relinquish your firearm,” said Taylor.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%. This number is increased when strangulation is involved. 

“If the victim does not leave, the victim is 750 times more likely to be murdered by that perpetrator but with a firearm,” said Taylor.

Taylor said the recent release of the legislative audit on domestic violence shows many people are unaware of the laws put in place to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. 

“When they know that there are people out here fighting for them, then it gives them the strength and the courage to go from being a victim to a survivor,” said Taylor.

For more information about the implementation of the Louisiana Firearm Divestiture Program, call your local sheriff’s office or your local domestic violence center.