This morning I tumbled about the 19 shootings in Chicago, and asked why no one seems to care about that (fully knowing why). But all summer long I have been reading story after story - always told in matter-of-fact ways in the Chicago Tribune, routine matters, no different than a bank robbery or even a closed street.
Mother Jones just published a piece “What makes it a mass shooting”
Bursts of gun violence keep grabbing the headlines—the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Sikh temple shooting, the Texas A&M shooting, today’s Empire State Building shooting. There are also hundreds of shootings around the country that barely register on the national radar. Yet which ones qualify as “mass shootings”? Here’s a primer:
Their analysis found
Generally, there are three terms you’ll see to describe a perpetrator of this type of gun violence: mass murderer, spree killer, or serial killer. AnFBI crime classification report from 2005identifies an individual as a mass murderer if he kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself), typically in a single location.(The baseline of four fatalities is key—more on this just below.)
The primary distinction between a mass murderer and a spree killer is that the latter strikes in multiple locations, though still in a relatively short time frame. A serial killer is distinguished by acting over a longer time frame, in multiple locations, with opportunity for what the FBI report refers to as “cooling-off periods” in between attacks.
Then Mother Jones did its own analysis after the Aurora Shootings. They mapped sixty mass shootings in the US in the past 30 years. BUT they excluded the following:
We excluded crimes involving armed robbery or gang violence;
The event had to have occurred in essentially a single incident, in a public place;
In accordance with the FBI report, the killer had to have taken the lives of at least four people.
Ok, I have an answer. Because a good part - but not all of the shootings in Chicago last night involved “gang violence” - it is routine. It does not count. We do not have to get upset about it. We do not have to fill Facebook walls with posts, we do not have to pray over it. We can go about and do our daily business.
Maybe the problem is that WE NEED to pay attention to these things. We NEED to put this front and center. We NEED to write newspaper stories filled with angst and outrage.
Maybe I shouldn’t get upset when I see stories like the one in this morning’s tribune. (And to be fair to the Trib, they did issue a News Alert email about the story, which was on the Front Page). The reality is the American people are perfectly content ignoring what goes on in the inner cities, and blissfully ignoring the costs of our culture of gun violence. But should we?