Yes, Boston Is In A Gun-Violence Crisis

The one-per-day mark has been breached.

Jamarhl Crawford of Blackstonian, and others, have been keeping a very public count of the number of shooting victims in Boston since the Boston Marathon bombing. The idea is to draw attention to the ongoing crisis, in hopes of getting some resources and effort put toward doing something about it.

It’s been an effective campaign, but for most people the number has no real resonance, no context. The count stood at 67 (fatal and non-fatal) as of Friday—prior to the apparent early-morning triple-homicide on Intervale Street. Few people could tell you if that is an unusual number of shootings for the city.

In fact, it is. As I first wrote seven years ago, Boston’s level of gun violence breaks down quite simply: during relatively non-violent times, the city averages one shooting victim every other day; during crisis times, the average hits one per day. (The number does vary a little during the calendar year, but not nearly as much as you might imagine.)

It’s really that simple. During the worst years of 1990 to 1995, the average was 1.2 per day; during the nine “Boston Miracle” years that followed, the average was 0.5 a day. Then trouble returned, and it went back up to around one a day for a while. For the past four years, 2009-2012, it’s stayed steady between 0.6 and 0.7 per day—not as good as it could be, but well below crisis level.

Well, in 66 days since the Marathon, Boston had 67 shooting victims. The deaths in Roxbury make it at least 70 in 67 days.

In fact, going by Boston Police Department data, the city has been averaging one a day since roughly late March—a nearly three month span.

It might turn out to be just a blip. But three months is a pretty good indicator. There really is a problem in the city, one big enough to call a crisis.