Some mass shootings are more equal than others. At least when it comes to media coverage.
Last Sunday morning, one of the worst mass shootings of 2018 took place in Trenton, New Jersey. Around 1,000 people were at Art All Night, a 24-hour community festival. Starting around 2:45 a.m. up to 70 shots rang out, first from criminals and then from officers at the scene. The shooting left one of the suspects dead and up to 29 people injured, including a 13-year-old boy.
It’s a blessing that none of the innocent attendees died, but the high injury count still stands out. The same media that gave months of coverage to the tragic shooting at a high school in Parkland didn’t give this story the time of day. Little surprise there. This heartbreaking situation illustrates the ineffectiveness of the most prominent gun control proposals.
It starts with the shooters, who broke multiple existing laws before they pulled a trigger that night. Police believe the shooting was gang-related.
Tahaji Wells, a member of the Bloods gang, was the suspect killed by police at the scene. This wasn’t the first shooting Wells had been involved in. In 2004, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fatally shooting a 22-year-old. Wells was 17 at the time, which meant it was illegal for him to have a firearm.
While in prison, he and another prisoner worked together to run a gang that dealt drugs and extorted businesses in Newark. Authorities caught him in 2010, and he pleaded guilty to racketeering, receiving an additional six-year sentence.
So why was he on the streets in 2018 instead of 2028? Officials reportedly said he served 85 percent of his 18-year sentence, which isn’t true and doesn’t explain what happened to the additional six-year sentence.
But don’t worry. Give up your guns and the government will protect you.
As a convicted felon, it was illegal for Wells to have a gun. One of weapons investigators recovered was a handgun with a magazine larger than New Jersey law permits. Police already have brought weapons charges against two other men involved in the shooting.
It wasn’t a law, however, that stopped Wells and the other suspects. It was police officers with guns shooting back.
Most of the time, when a criminal commits a crime, the police aren’t close by. That’s why so many Americans value firearms for self-defense.
New Jersey already has strict gun control laws, but imagine if Nevada Democrat gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak’s gun platform were in place. He wants to ban assault weapons, a term he won’t define, and high-capacity magazines. He also wants background checks on private-party gun sales.
It was illegal for Wells to have a gun, no matter how you define assault weapon. He had one anyway. High-capacity magazines are illegal in New Jersey. A shooter had one. Does anyone think a gang member is going to submit to a background check to obtain an illegal gun?
This is the challenge facing gun grabbers. Most of their proposed solutions will stop law-abiding citizens, not criminals, from owning guns and accessories, yet they refuse to mention “confiscation” because of political pressures. Instead, you’re supposed to ignore situations like the one in Trenton, which show their most popular plans won’t solve anything.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.