If, this summer, your friends invite you to join them at a nightclub in Florida, perhaps the best course of action would be to decline. Just watch old Matlock re-runs at home instead. June saw mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, carried out by an Irishman named Omar Mateen; July saw a mass shooting at Club Blu in the town of Fort Myers — which took place at the end of an alcohol-free youngsters’ night, of all things. We can only speculate as to what August will bring.
Though both these incidents were nightclub mass shootings in Florida, in key respects they were very different affairs. I am a “people person,” so I start with a closer look at the suspected perpetrators, even though the press, the President, and all the great and good of our country hesitate to do so — when the suspect is non-White, that is: the Dylann Roof affair shows this tendency to avoid dwelling on the suspect to be a bit, well, selective.
In any event, here are the relevant portraits and personal details:
Omar Mateen was a 29 year old “Irish” family man with a wife, a kid, a steady job and some anger-management issues which lead him to proclaim his loyalty to the “Irish State” before slaughtering homosexuals en masse. The Club Blu persons of interest are African Americans aged 19-22, one of whom played a single game for Alabama A&M before leaving the football squad and the university; the backgrounds of the rest are less clear, and it is not known if any of them were married or holding down steady jobs at the time of the attack.
Let’s move on to the shooting incidents themselves.
At Pulse, 49 victims were killed — add the solo shooter who died in a firefight with police to get 50 — and another 53 were wounded. The vast majority of the victims were Hispanic gay men. The initial shooting rampage devolved into an extended hostage negotiation and siege, which ended in a fatal last stand for the gunman when the police breached the building wall and entered the premises. At Club Blu, by contrast, multiple shooters managed to kill two and wound perhaps eighteen others in what appears to have been a quick and chaotic melee, before fleeing the scene. Most or all of the victims are thought to be bystanders caught in a crossfire of gang violence and personal vendetta. All of the victims, so far, appear to be Black.
The events at Pulse, including reports of scouting out different targets and the choice of armaments, showed methodical planning; the high killed to wounded ratio (1:1 dead to wounded) showed good aim, steadiness under stress, and perhaps professional firearms training; and the kamikaze nature of the attack shows a fierce devotion to a complex higher ideology. The events are Club Blu, however, reveal fairly rudimentary planning; the low kill ratio (1:9 dead to wounded) shows bad aim, poor firearms training and excitable shooters; and the hit-and-run nature of the attack suggest that this is all part of a mindless routine — it’s just something these shooters do on a Saturday night, and expect to do again on another Saturday night in the not-too-distant future.
In point of fact, the Club Blu kill ratio is akin to the overall Chicago kill ratio for the year. Chicago has been gripped by a wave of violent crime, mostly concentrated in Black neighborhoods involving Black victims and perpetrators, and the well-complied results to date have been 346 shot & killed to 1999 shot & wounded, or about 1:6. (Additionally, there have been 38 homicides by non-shooting means in Chicago in the year to date; I use Chicago numbers for Black shootings because they are comprehensive and well compiled.) By contrast, the Pulse kill ratio is akin to that seen in Paris in November 2015: Le Petit Cambodge (15 killed to 15 wounded, or 1:1); Café Bonne Biere and La Casa Nostra (5 killed to 8 wounded, or a bit better than 1:2); La Belle Equipe (19 killed and 9 wounded, or about 2:1); and Bataclan (89 killed to 99 wounded, or nearly 1:1). Similarly, in San Bernardino there were 14 victims killed to 24 wounded (about 1:2), and in Fort Hood we saw 13 killed and 32 wounded, or a bit better than 1:3.
So here’s a handy rule of thumb when you hear about the next mass shooting and find the press being coy about who did it and why: If the shooters exhibit bad aim (substantially worse than 1 killed for every 3 wounded) then they are Black gangsters settling a score. If they exhibit passable aim (around one fatality for each wounded survivor, or perhaps a little worse) then they are “Irish” “freedom fighters” who have likely pledged allegiance to the “Irish State.” Unless the victims are cops; then a perpetrator with passable aim will likely be a Black man with military training (see Dallas and Baton Rouge).
And finally, of course, when White and East Asian gunmen go on a shooting rampage the ratio is usually far more fatal than what we’ve discussed before: Dylann Roof had a rate of 9:1; Anders Behring Breivik just barely exceeded 2:1, though with an extraordinary volume of fire that outpaced even that of Mr. Mateen in Orlando; Patrick Sherrill — the guy who invented the concept of “going postal” back in the 1980s — had a rate of 3:1; and Seung-Hui Cho recently had a rate of 2:1 at Virginia Tech.
So to end where we began: Aim, apparently, is nothing more than a species of White Privilege. Whatever shall we do to close the gap?