Are Some Mass Shootings Worse Than Others?


Are Some Mass Shootings Worse Than Others?

This week we saw yet another senseless mass shooting.  This time it was in Philadelphia where a group of youths shot up a city bus that was boarding students on the way home from school.  Eight high school students were shot.  It was the 4th bus shooting in 4 days in Philly.  Undoubtedly some, if not all, of those shootings are related. 

Presumably one, if not several, of these students were targeted, likely due to some sort of inane juvenile dispute.   However, some were also probably innocent bystanders, getting on the bus next to the wrong person.  No doubt some of them know their attackers and will not cooperate with the police.  We have heard that story more times than we care to mention. 

Which brings us to an important question.  Is this shooting worse than the deranged shooters who enter schools and attempt to kill students and teachers for twisted and illogical reasons?  Are the innocent victims boarding the bus in Philly any less traumatized than the victim of a more “traditional” mass shooting event?  They are just as randomly targeted and in no less pain. 

The media seems to think so.  The Philadelphia shooting received a brief, just-the-facts article in the New York Times.  Many outlets didn’t even cover it.  There was no call for gun reform or decrying our mental health system in the Times article.  There was no opportunity to comment on the article that closed with some cherry-picked statistics about the reduction in homicides in Philadelphia since 2022.  A brief and rare outbreak of violence in the City of Brotherly Love if you ask the “writers” at The Times

The shooting at the Kansas City Superbowl parade left one dead and 22 injured.  One of the shooters had prior gun arrests and had just come off probation.  When media outlets learned that the shooting was motivated by a “dispute” amongst perps, the coverage took a dramatic dip. 

On March 3, there was one person killed and 12 wounded in a shooting incident at Club Oasis, a Mississippi nightclub.  The shooting was apparently a planned event that revolved around an ongoing dispute between two groups.  You may not have even heard of this mass shooting.

Are these shootings any less deadly than a mass shooter who randomly shoots at a shopping mall or school?  Are these shooters not also mentally ill?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  One thing I can tell you from investigating “regular” shootings for decades.  The motives are no less senseless.  Perhaps senseless in a different way from a shooter who is angry at society or suffering mental demons – but senseless nonetheless.  

Want just a glimpse into “traditional” shootings motives that have come across my desk in NYPD detective squads? 

  • Dirty looks
  • Dissed on Instagram
  • Rival gang members took a photo of themselves in front of my building
  • He called me a bitch
  • They are from the other side of the development

I even had a “he ate my lunch motive” once.  But I never, not once, investigated a shooting with a legally purchased firearm, unless it was a cop.  I only had one with an “assault rifle.”  And only one perp who targeted people at random. 

Can a rational person imagine opening fire on a busy street over motives like those enumerated above?  Are these any worse than the shooter who is suffering from mental illness or anger at society in general? 

I do know that the sort of shootings described in that list are more common, much more common, than school shootings — and equally senseless.  Perhaps the media should get find these equally disturbing and newsworthy.  Just occasionally? 

They’ll have plenty of opportunity.

Thanks for reading The Ops Desk. Stay Safe!




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