Shootings in Los Angeles Airport and Detroit Barbershops

November 8th, 2013

Last week one person was killed in a “shooting” at Los Angeles International Airport. It reached critical mass in the media. A search for “Shooting LAX” on Google News turns up 53 million hits. Yesterday there was a “shooting” at a barbershop  in Detroit. It was apparently precipitated when thirty people were gambling in a backroom. Three people were killed. Have you heard about it? Probably not. A Google News search turns up a mere 125,000 results. I will reiterate my thoughts on why some shootings gather more media attention than others.

Making my point, with humor, is Andy Borowitz:

A new study released today indicates that Americans are safe from the threat of gun violence except in schools, malls, airports, movie theatres, workplaces, streets, and their own homes.

Also: highways, turnpikes, libraries, places of worship, parks, universities, restaurants, post offices, and cars.

Plus: driveways, garages, gyms, stores, military bases—and a host of other buildings, structures, and sites.

Barber shops in Detroit aren’t on that list.

And, on cue, ThinkProgress blogs “A Mass Shooting Happened Yesterday But You Didn’t Hear Anything About It.”

What makes this shooting different? Several things. First, it happened in Detroit, a city with a staggeringly high murder rate. Second, the reported gunman had a criminal history, and may have had a longstanding feud with some of the victims. And, third, it happened in a space where many people can’t imagine themselves: a gambling session in the back room of a barber shop.

Sadly, the relative media ignorance of the shooting tracks with a common theme: Gun crimes often occur in low-income neighborhoods with largely non-white victims, but, from the news, you’d think every shooting put the white and affluent at risk of violence. There’s an obvious reason from a producer’s perspective: They want traffic, or viewers, and think they can get more if more well-off news consumers are self-concerned with the story. But it doesn’t reflect the reality of gun violence in the United States, where black people are far more likely to be victims of gun homicides compared to their white counterparts.

I agree with this assessment entirely.