Chicago has had 16 mass shootings so far this year, with no presidential notice
No presidential trips to funerals in Chicago for victims of any of the 16 mass shootings in President Obama’s hometown. It is amazing how some mass shootings rate more media and political attention than others. Joe Ward of DNAinfo writes:
Chicago has accounted for 16… mass shootings, according to records kept by DNAinfo Chicago. There have been 48 mass shootings in Chicago since 2013, according to The Guardian.
Mass shootings, categorized by the Mass Shooting Tracker and various news sites as when 4 or more people are wounded in a single shooting incident, have been on the rise and have been the source of immense media attention nationwide. There is no official government database or definition of a "mass shooting," though the FBI defines a "mass murder" as 4 or more victims killed.
So what might account for the lack of attention to Chicago’s mass shootings?
For the most part, mass shootings that garner widespread media attention have a few things in common: They happen in small town or suburban settings, usually inside a targeted facility and often in daylight. While the shooter may target a certain group, he usually does not personally know the victims.
About 95 percent of shooters in mass shooting incidents are men, according to "Mass Shootings In America: Moving Beyond Newtown," published in the academic journal Homicide Studies. Sixty-two percent of shooters are white, and 38 percent are in their 20s.
The shootings that don't spark national debates are the ones in inner cities, where the shootings are often categorized as gang-related and the victims are poor minorities. In other words: the ones that happen in Chicago.
Professor James Alan Fox, who co-wrote "Mass Shootings In America," said there are several key characteristics of inner-city mass shootings that distinguish them from the ones that tend to garner national attention.
For one, the shooter's profiles are different, Fox said. Their motives are different, too: In urban areas, the violence often stems from interpersonal disputes and criminal activity, Fox said.
"It's crooks killing crooks," he said of inner-city violence. "It seems like, in school schootings, the victims are more innocent."
That perception of urban violence could also explain its absence from intense media coverage, Fox said.
One other factor: the race of the perp. The mass shootings that gather the most attention usually have white perpetrators. The sole exception would be Virginia Tech, where the shooter was of Korean descent. But when it comes to being considered a victim class, Asian Americans receive no consideration, despite a history of official discrimination. When it comes to admission to highly competitive colleges, Asians are even more disadvantaged by racial preferences than whites.
Another factor: Chicago has strict gun control laws, so there is no political capital to be harvested by paying attention to mass shootings there.
So if you are a minority victim in a mass shooting carried out by a victim class minority, don’t expect a lot of attention.
Hat tip: Peter von Buol