Baton Rouge Gun Violence By The Numbers

by Andi O'Rourke

The shooting deaths of three Baton Rouge police officers early on the morning of July 17 come on the heels of significant unrest in the area, following large public protests against the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling on July 5. Just how many shootings have occurred in Baton Rouge and across the state of Louisiana? The state has been in the throes of a spate of gun violence that has largely impacted the black community.

In 2011, the entire state of Louisiana experienced 402 murders committed by firearms, out of a total of 485 homicides for that year, according to statistics compiled by The Guardian. While these numbers are saddening on their own, putting a little more context in play reveals a sobering, sorrowful state of affairs. Louisiana was second only to Washington, D.C., when it came to the number of shooting deaths per 100,000 people in that same year; just under 11 out of every 100,000 residents of the state would be murdered by a person with a gun that year. In Washington, D.C., that number was approximately 12 per 100,000 residents. Mississippi came in third in this grisly contest, at about seven people being murdered with a gun for every 100,000 residents in the state.

Statistics published online by the city of Baton Rouge paint a bleak portrait of the toll that gun violence has had on the state capital over the past few years, too.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images News/Getty Images
  • 2013 shooting deaths: 54
  • 2014 shooting deaths: 38
  • 2015 shooting deaths: 61
  • 2016 shooting deaths: 21

While the data from 2013 doesn't show the breakdown of the age, race, and sex of the victims and the suspects, the data from 2014-2016 does, and it paints a devastating portrait of the impact that gun violence has had on the black community in the parish of just under 447,000 inhabitants. With the vast majority of murder victims and suspects coming from the black community, the burden of gun violence is being felt more. Approximately 46.1 percent of the city was black and only 1.4 identified as mixed race of any kind, according to 2015 census data. This is a disparity that is disproportionately affecting African Americans in the area, and that's not even taking into account who the police have been shooting at.

The data show the different standard of living that still persists in this country depending on location and one's skin color. We need to do better, and push back against the culture of wanton, reckless violence that pervades throughout our whole country.