NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There have been more than 50 murders so far this year in New Orleans. One local criminologist says if the city continues on that pace, there could be a record number of homicides by the end of the year.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison went before Louisiana lawmakers Tuesday to speak in favor of a bill that, if passed, would make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy an assault weapon in the state. While he argued that law-abiding citizens don't use assault weapons to protect their homes, he also spoke about the current murder count.
"In the 51 murders that we've had this year, the 157 we had last year, the 174 the year before that and the 164 we had the year before that, and my first year as chief, on average, with about 350 non-fatal shootings a year, there has not been one instance in all of those where an assault weapon was used by a citizen to defend their home or themselves," said Harrison.
Dillard criminologist Ashraf Esmail says raising the age to buy an assault weapon couldn't hurt,
"This can only be beneficial, you know, raising the age to 21. Generally when we look at the shootings, especially in this city, you're looking at 18- to 24-year-olds that are engaging in these mass shootings," said Esmail.
He adds recent crime numbers in the city are scary.
"When we look at our numbers over the last couple of years, you know, we say 174, 160, 157, it's not that much of a difference. We're still, if you take away even 40 murders, we're still in the top four in terms of per capita in the nation given our population, so these numbers are still kind of frightening in regards to murder," said Esmail.
And if New Orleans stays on this pace, Esmail says the city could be looking at a record murder count by the end of the year.
"Certainly if we stay at these numbers, I mean you look at 51 murders now, you're on pace for about 240 murders at the end of the year, if it stays on this pace," said Esmail.
We reached out to the NOPD about the current murder count, in a statement a spokesman said: