In the pre-dawn hours yesterday, the nation experienced yet another mass shooting. One dead, 22 injured, including a 13-year-old boy. It took place at the crowded Art All Night Trenton festival in New Jersey. To their limited credit, a couple of cable news outlets mentioned the shooting in their coverage yesterday and this morning. The New York Times wrote a rather lengthy article about it, though it showed up on page A-17. It received similarly “not prominent” coverage in other major papers. The Associated Press took a fairly deep dive on it, but you need to search around a bit on their website to find it.
Gunmen opened fire at an all-night arts and music festival early Sunday morning, sending people running over each other in the scramble to safety, authorities said. One suspect was killed and 22 people, including two suspects, were injured.
Of 17 people treated for gunshot wounds, four of them, including a 13-year-old boy, were critically injured but three had been upgraded to stable by evening, leaving only one man believed to be a suspect in critical condition, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri.
The shots rang out around 2:45 a.m. Sunday as an estimated 1,000 or more people were attending the Art All Night Trenton festival that showcases local art, music, food and films.
One dead, 22 injured. That makes it one of the three or four largest mass shootings of 2018.
What you’re not seeing is a line of politicians waiting to be interviewed on cable news about this. You’re not seeing the Parkland kids calling for a march on the streets of Trenton. In fact, outside of the people who are directly impacted in the immediate area, we’re getting what’s mostly a collective shrug from the national press. Why?
One dead, 22 injured.
The Art All Night Trenton shooting isn’t of much interest to the majority of the press because it includes all the wrong sort of people for a hot story with a political hook. First of all, pretty much everyone involved with the shooting was black. There were rival gangs mixing it up at the festival. The cops even knew about it in advance because people were tipping them off about the gang presence. They had come and told the festival organizers they should shut down early because trouble was brewing. The organizers were in the process of doing that when the fireworks started.
The one shooter who is currently at room temperature, 33-year-old Tahaij Wells, had been out of prison on parole for all of four months for a previous murder. There were “multiple” gangs involved. The weapons of choice were almost entirely handguns so there was no chance to rail against “assault rifles.” (One suspect did have an extended magazine capable of holding more rounds than state law allows.) We’re not seeing any demands for information on the weapons used. Why? I’d like to know how many of those gang members were in possession of handguns they legally purchased after passing a background check. But nobody in the national press seems to be interested in telling that story either.
One dead, 22 injured.
This was gang warfare. And it’s probably the most common form of gun violence seen in major cities on a yearly basis. But nobody is talking about it the way they will if a deranged white guy with a rifle commits the far more rare mass shooting of that type. There’s a gun violence problem here that could be addressed, making a serious difference. But places like Baltimore, Maryland and Chicago, Illinois still have municipal leaders who can’t bring themselves to pass harsher laws to put away first-time offenders who commit gun crimes. They prefer to focus on justice reform, emptying the prisons more quickly and blaming the police.
One dead, 22 injured. But that’s not even a drop in the bucket compared to the death tolls in Baltimore and Chicago just this year alone. Background checks aren’t going to solve this. Enforcing the laws we already have on the books and getting illegal firearms out of the hands of criminals will.
But nobody seems to want to talk about that.