For nearly a week, a triple murder in a sleazy Philadelphia bar has been much in the news, with the local press has been reporting that the shooting was triggered by an argument over a bet. This story, headlined “Six killed in weekend violence — Dispute over bet turns deadly” is typical:

The gunman inside Abay’s Wheeler Bar on South 62d Street had won the bet, and flew into a rage when the loser didn’t produce any money, said the cousin, Henry Atkins, 18, of the 6200 block of Reedland Street, a block from the small corner tavern.
Atkins, who was sitting on his steps, staring blankly ahead with moist eyes, said his cousin and next-door neighbor, Arthur Jennings, 20, was one of the dead men. “It was all over a bet,” Atkins said, shaking his head.
He said another victim, Claude “Netty” Snelling, 30, had wagered on Ronald “Winky” Wright, a challenger to light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins of Philadelphia.
Hopkins won a unanimous decision. “Netty bet on Winky, and when the guy wanted his money, he didn’t have it,” Atkins muttered. Then he stood and abruptly went inside, leaving unanswered the question of how much was owed.
A neighbor who knows the family said that Snelling was the boyfriend of Jennings’ mother and that the two victims lived together. The third homicide victim was Jamar Thompson, 31, of the 3500 block of North Masher Street.

The story about the bet was reported over and over again, and I had no reason to doubt routine references like this:

one of seven people killed last weekend in Philadelphia, his case lost in the attention focused on the shooting at Abay’s Wheeler Bar in Southwest Philadelphia that left three men dead and a fourth critically wounded after an argument over a boxing bet

Or editorialist Monica Yant Kinney:

Monday, Street dragged himself to Abay Wheeler’s Bar in Southwest Philadelphia, where a weekend shoot-out – over a boxing bet – left three people dead and one barely breathing.

But today’s Inquirer reports that an arrest had been made — and that “Police discounted earlier reports that an unpaid bet had led to the shootings“:

Philadelphia police announced the arrest of a West Philadelphia man in the triple murder at a bar shooting last week even as three more people were killed in the city yesterday.
Vonzell “Pooh” Roundtree, 27, of the 5800 block of Rodman Street, was charged with three counts of homicide and attempted murder in the rampage last Sunday at Abay’s Wheeler Bar in Southwest Philadelphia.
Arthur Jennings, 20, Claude “Netty” Snelling, 30, and Jamar Thompson, 31, were killed after a “very minor argument,” police said.
It was originally reported that a fight had escalated after a wager over the Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright boxing match was not paid. Yesterday, police said that story was not the case. (Emphasis added.)

So, as an explanation, we’ve gone from an unpaid bet to a “very minor argument.”
Can we be sure?
Once again, it strikes me that the most important detail is not what may have gone through the criminal’s mind at the time of the shooting, but the fact that he was an armed ex-con, whose possession of the gun was in total violation of strong, existing gun laws. Readers have to turn to the inside pages of today’s Section B (to page B-6 to be exact), to find the following recital:

Roundtree had three previous arrests for firearms and drug charges, court records show. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to carrying firearms without a license and was sentenced to three years of probation.

I think the reason such criminal backgrounds tend not to be stressed is because they don’t fit the narrative — which is that we need more gun laws.
Nor do criminal backgrounds of shooters fit the narrative of Philadelphia as a city at war:

A CITY OF VIOLENCE
The CBS report – which noted that the number of homicides has been increasing in many large American cities – focused on North Philadelphia, where reporter Byron Pitts said that “life is often short and illegal handguns are cheap.” To prove his point, a 19-year-old – whose face was obscured and who was said to have been just released from jail – pulled a pistol from his front pocket and said, “Everybody’s got a gun everywhere.”

I wonder whether reporter Byron Pitts realized that he was witnessing a gun crime right there. Did he call the cops immediately and report it? No; instead he just covered it up by hiding the criminal’s face, in a piece clamoring for more gun laws which are a joke to criminals like the 19 year old.
Perhaps I should be thankful that the reporter didn’t dutifully tag along and help the criminal out with a straw purchase as they did in Boston.
Yeah, I know that MSM journalists think the First Amendment gives them a special “no snitching” privilege unavailable to anyone else, but they also feel somehow entitled to break the gun laws in order to advance their narrative that because it’s easy to break existing gun laws, we need more.
Yes, it is easy to break gun laws, just as it’s easy commit crime. You’d be surprised. Why, I don’t see why some “journalist” doesn’t just get in his car and prove his point by doing a driveby shooting, then declaring how easy it is to break the laws against driveby shootings! (Why, it’s almost as easy as breaking the laws against child molesting or rape!)
An additional point of the “CITY OF VIOLENCE” narrative here is that Philadelphia is Baghdad. Whether that means Bush is responsible and that we should pull out, I’m not sure. But it’s a war, complete with law abiding citizens — who are… Are what? I can’t be sure, so I’ll let readers decide:

The newscast could have come down even harder on Philadelphia. Earlier in the day, reporter Pitts had written on the CBS Web site that Philadelphia is like “a war zone.”
“Just like Baghdad, there are law-abiding citizens whom we met that keep a gun close by when they take their children to school, go to the grocery store and when they close their eyes at night in their own bed,” he wrote. “In Philadelphia they’re not called ‘insurgents’; they’re drug dealers and thugs.”

I’m having a little bit of trouble understanding how the law-abiding citizens became first insurgents, then drug dealers and thugs, but I guess that doesn’t matter, because the main thing is to remember that Philadelphia is Baghdad.
But if you keep reading, it seems someone edited that important detail out!

The televised report, however, did not mention Baghdad. And experts have cautioned that comparisons between Philadelphia and Iraq’s war-ravaged capital are a slippery slope, since the death rate is far higher in Baghdad, and the root causes of violence so radically different.
But one thing is the same 11,000 miles apart, and that is the senselessness of violent death.

I think it’s more senseless to allow violent criminals to run around carrying illegal guns in the first place than it is to wait until they commit murder, only to then decry the “senselessness” of the murders. For all I know, some of these criminals might be thinking that some of these murders are sensible. It seems senseless not to lock them up.
But unless I am reading him wrong, Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner appears not to think that locking up a triple murderer would be a devastating result:

Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson says, “You have a family that’s been devastated not only lost one to death but probably going to lose one to life in prison for killing the other family member,”

You’d think the chief would be delighted that an arrest had been made, as well as with the possibility that this murderous ex-con might finally be going to prison for life where he belongs, but he doesn’t sound that way. It’s as if he thinks it’s tragic that a criminal has to go to prison for murder.
Does he actually think that it was the gun drove this ex-con to possess it illegally, take it to a bar, murder three patrons, and wound others?
I can’t be sure, but what he said about concealed carry permit holders last year makes me worry not only about the man’s priorities, but whether the anti-gun narrative has blinded him to reality:

“At this point, right now, we have over 32,000 people in Philly who have permits to carry (and) actually walk the streets of Philly with a gun. We only have 6,400 police officers. We’re outnumbered nearly 5-to-1 with people who are on the streets with guns,” Johnson said.

Remember, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law abiding citizens in the city or the state. But the chief thinks that guns in the hands of law abiding people are the problem.
I think guns in the hands of criminals are the problem, and guns in the hands of law abiding people are part of the solution.
Unfortunately, disagreeing with a narrative often seems like a waste of time, because disagreeing with it doesn’t make it go away.
(Might as well disagree with the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine.”)
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome all!
In a post I wrote this morning, I tried to analyze the facts of another Philadelphia shooting — and wondered whether the narrative is rendering facts almost superfluous.