New study shows Louisiana third in the nation for highest gun deaths

LOUISIANA (KNOE) - More than 40 years ago, Lois Woodward says her ex-husband nearly killed her in their home.

"He put it against my stomach and pulled the trigger," Woodward said.

After that, she was scared emotionally and physically.

"I couldn't stand the sight of a gun; I couldn't stand anybody around me talking about guns. Anything," Woodward said.

Non-profit researchers have been studying gun violence for years trying to understand why it happens and how to prevent it.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) says in the U.S., gun deaths are up 17% since 2008. In fact, Louisiana has the third highest gun deaths in the country. VPC says it's because nearly half of the homes here have guns.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriffs Office said having a gun isn't always a bad thing.

"If they're used safely, they can give you a life of security and comfort," Mickey Watts, range master for OPSO, said.

For Sonny Harrington guns are a way of life.
He hunts, teaches a concealed carry class and is a National Rifle Association member.

"I've never shot anybody. Hopefully, I won't," Harrington said.

He said weapons can do more good than harm.

"You don't hear anything about a gun saving someone. You always hear about the gun that killed somebody," Harrington said.

The VPC's study attributes high rates to weak gun laws and states that make it easier for people to own a weapon.

Louisiana has very relaxed gun laws even when it comes to concealed weapons unless you're carrying it in public.

"It has to be in plain sight though. And easily recognizable as a firearm," Watts said.

Woodward even owns a gun these days-just in case.

"Every time I look in the mirror. I'm reminded," she said.

The sheriff's office said the study is an important reminder to know how and when to use a gun.