That gun violence disproportionately impacts African American men in New Orleans (and many other American cities) is fairly well known. But the degree of difference between gun violence in the African American community and the rest of the city is a bit stunning. Breaking down murder by age, race and gender can also be a useful exercise for seeing how the city’s gun violence reduction program NOLA for Life has impacted murder and how far we still have to go.
First, and most obviously, we can simply separate murder victims by age, race and gender into the below table. This data is provided in the form of homicide spreadsheets by NOPD.
There are a few things that stand out from this breakdown. First, although programs like NOLA for Life target specific age groups within the African American community (16 to 24 in the case of NOLA for Life), gun violence clearly impacts black men of all ages. NOLA for Life’s target age/race/gender group made up under a quarter of people murdered in 2015.
Another way of looking at the demographics is by murder rate per 100,000 people. The census provides estimates of age/race/gender for New Orleans for 2014, and the result is the below table.
The murder rate in New Orleans in 2015 was just about 40 per 100,000 residents. The national rate in 2014, the last year for which data is available, was 4.5 murders per 100,000 residents. Caracas, Venezuela is the murder capital of the world according to Wikipedia with a murder rate of 119.87 murders per 100,000 people. For segments of the African American community in New Orleans it is two to three times that bad.
Comparing 2015’s demographics to the year before NOLA for Life’s first full year (2012) shows some positive progress in the last four years. Murder was down citywide almost exclusively because of drops in murder among African Americans.
There was no change in the murder rate for black men over 35 and (interestingly) under 19. There was a significant drop in murders for men aged 20 to 24 (-17 murders) and 25 to 29 (-13 murders) accounting for the entirety of the murder drop from 2012 to 2015.
New Orleans will likely see a dip in murder in 2016 as the percent of shootings ending in a fatality is lower this year than last. But the city is on pace for a rise in shootings this year relative to last year indicating there has been little systemic change driving murder down this year compared to where is has been since 2013. The progress against gun violence since 2011/2012 has been real, but there is clearly quite a long way to go.