2016 is almost fully on the books and New Orleans will finish with a rise in murder for the second consecutive year though how big remains to be seen. New Orleans is sitting on 169 murders as of mid-December which is a pace of 177 for the full year. There have only been 4 murders so far in December, but that is almost entirely a factor of better luck rather than lessened gun violence.

As I’ve mentioned before, murder is a bad statistic for measuring gun violence because there is a lot of luck/randomness involved whenever a bullet leaves a gun. Roughly 35 percent of shootings are expected to end in a fatality over time, so large variations above or below that average always seem to revert back to the mean eventually.

That’s what’s happening in the fourth quarter of 2016. The below graph shows the annualized pace of shootings this year (red line) with the annualized pace over 30 days (blue dotted line). As you can see, shootings are not slowing down. They’re actually speeding up.


There were 131 shootings over 92 days in the third quarter of 2016 (1.42 a day), and there have been 119 shootings though 76 days of the fourth quarter (1.57 a day). The reason that murder is slowing down toward the end of the year is that a well below average percent of shootings are ending in a fatality in the fourth quarter after a well above average percent ended in a fatality in the third quarter.

Quarter Shootings Fatal % Fatal
Q1 2016 100 30 30%
Q2 2016 105 28 26.7%
Q3 2016 131 55 42%
Q4 2016 119 35 29.4%

This is bad news for 2017 as at some point there will be a reversion to the mean over an extended period of time. This will mean an extended run of higher murder counts unless there is a significant drop in shootings.