A shooting in the Central Business District on the evening of August 6th marked the 52nd shooting in the previous 30 days in New Orleans, the worst such 30-day stretch of gun violence since April 2011. Another shooting on August 7th was the 13th of August, the worst first week of the month on record (my daily shooting tallies go back to the start of 2010).
New Orleans is now on pace for 443 shootings and 162 murders in 2016. That pace, if realized, would be the highest number of shootings in New Orleans since 2012 when there were also 443. The 162 murders would be two fewer than 2015’s total.
The question to be asked, therefore, is whether this is an unusually timed blip in shootings, whether gun violence here is returning to pre-2013 levels, or something in between.Gun violence in New Orleans has been remarkably consistent since the start of 2010. The city averaged 450 shootings a year from 2010 to 2012, saw a big drop in 2013 as NOLA for Life’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy Came online, and has averaged about 410 shootings in 2014 and 2015.
This can be seen on the below chart which shows the number of shootings over 365 days. Shootings dropped in 2013 and came back to about 10-15 percent below pre-2013 levels in 2014 through the present.
Indeed, New Orleans was on pace for between 390 and 410 shootings for most of this year until late June. The above chart shows shootings over a year which highlights long term trends but doesn’t show what’s happening from week to week or month to month.
Shorter term trends, however, can be seen on the below chart. The red line plots the pace of shootings for every day of the year while the blue line annualizes the pace of shootings over the each day’s previous 30 days.
Shootings have been sustainably occurring at a higher level over the last five months than at any point since before gang indictments started en masse in 2013. There have been at least 34 shootings each month from March through July, the first time that has happened since December 2012 through April 2013.
Gun violence is complicated, and understanding why trends may or may not be changing is tough. It is possible, likely even, that this is a short term blip and not a new trend. But it is also plausible that the impact of NOLA for Life’s anti-gang work has worn off completely and gun violence is returning to 2010 to 2012 levels.
The first step to analyzing changing trends is to recognize when they may be occurring, and time will tell whether this is a spike or something new. More time is needed to say for sure.