In the course of researching something else I noticed this NY Times blurb about a 1983 mass killing:
On Feb. 19, 1983, two Hong Kong immigrants, Kwan-Fai (Willie) Mak and Benjamin Ng, shot dead 13 Chinese-American businessmen and gambling dealers in a Seattle gambling club. They were found guilty on 13 murder counts in Seattle in 1983.
I mention this not to prepare for a thirtieth anniversary observance but because the shooting is not included in the Mother Jones data base of mass shootings in the US since 1980. And why not? Well, here are their criteria:
The shootings occured in a public place. (Except in the case of a party in Crandon, Wisconsin, and another in Seattle.) Crimes primarily related to gang activity or armed robbery are not included.
So as an armed robbery this was excluded. Interesting. Does that mean they also dropped some banger-on-banger shootouts and executions from the 1990's drug wars? How many (if any?) and could that explain why overall crime has dropped but there is no obvious trend in mass shootings?
An issue here is that we are trying to grasp whether there is a trend in mass shootings, subject to the concern that it is much easier for people to recall (or Google!) the recent past.
And since my launching point was a NY Times article from 1987 recapping earlier mass shootings, let me add this from the same article:
On Sept. 25, 1982, George E. Banks, a prison guard, killed 13 people in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He shot four girlfriends, the five children they bore him, the mother of one of his girlfriends and one of her children, a second child of another girlfriend and a man standing on the street. He was convicted on 13 murder counts on June 21, 1983.
We included six so-called "spree killings"—high-profile cases that fit closely with our above criteria for mass murder, but in which the killings occurred in more than one location over a short period of time.
They have more on their criteria here:
- We excluded crimes involving armed robbery or gang violence;
- The attack must have occurred in essentially a single incident, in a public place;
- The killer, in accordance with the FBI guideline, had to have taken the lives of at least four people.
Puzzling. Was Banks excluded because he killed people in their homes rather than in public? Whatever my previous confidence in their data base, it is now lower.
MORE: Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard takes issue with MJ.