Murder in New Orleans is way up, shootings are rising fast and the dog days are just beginning to growl.
It all sounds like a grim recipe for lots of gun violence this summer, except for one catch: The notion that trigger fingers warm up with the rising mercury is bunk, at least in the Crescent City, according to a local crime analyst.
Neither temperature nor rainfall has proven to be any kind of predictor for when people shoot or kill each other in New Orleans since the start of 2011, says Jeff Asher, a former City Hall crime analyst who now runs a private consulting firm.
Asher analyzed recorded daily high temperatures in the city and then crunched the numbers on shooting incidents, fatal and otherwise, using publicly available data on New Orleans Police Department calls for service, major offense logs and homicides.
Despite some high-profile summer gun violence — the Bourbon Street melee last year that killed one and injured nine; the Burgundy Street firing spree in August that left two dead; and the fatal shooting last month of NOPD Officer Daryle Holloway — any notion that bullets light up the swelter of a New Orleans summer more often than other times of year is fantasy, Asher says.
“More shootings happen when the temperature is warmer, but only because the temperature is warmer more often” in New Orleans, he said. “A shooting is as likely to occur when it’s 50 degrees as when it’s 80 degrees.”
The same goes for rain, said Asher, who also charted shooting incidents based on daily rainfall totals for the city. A soaking wet trigger doesn’t seem to deter shootings in New Orleans, according to his analysis, which found no link between gunfire and rainfall over the past 4 1/2 years.
By comparison, Asher looked at Baltimore, a similarly violent city but one featuring months of often bitter cold. There, he found a significant rise in gun violence during hotter days — or more accurately, less gunfire in the winter.
The data that Asher analyzed do not include gunfire that misses or shootings in which no one shows up at a hospital or reports it to police. He figures those are few.
One temporal link that Asher found in New Orleans seems to be a preference among shooters for certain days of the week, namely Sunday and, surprisingly, Monday, according to his analysis.
On average, gunfire hits flesh 1.15 times a day in the city, but on Sundays, it happens an average of 1.45 times, according to the analysis. Monday is a surprising second at 1.32 shootings per day, with Saturday at 1.23.
Wednesday is the safest day, at .96 shootings per day, just behind Tuesday and Thursday, according to Asher’s analysis.
Those trends differ from a somewhat dated report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found murders seem to happen most frequently on Saturday, followed by Sunday, with Friday a distant third.
Asher said he hasn’t yet looked into a correlation between New Orleans shootings and Saints gamedays.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.