What happened yesterday, June 12, 2016, in a nightclub in Orlando Florida is the largest single shooting massacre ever in the history of the USA. That fact alone has engendered reactions that are ever-growing, ever-expanding, ever-fearful as more facts come to light. Here are just a few brief reactions I want to mention from what I observed:
- the reaction of an off-duty policeman who exchanged fire with the shooter and also got some people to safety
- the brave and professional handling of the situation by local, state and federal first-responders who thereby saved hundreds of lives
- of course, the immediate reaction of medical staff of the trauma center to the necessity of treating a large number of wounded people
- the outpouring of empathy and sympathy throughout this country and the world
- the examples of heroic and healing actions taken by certain patrons in the midst of chaos and in what followed
- the despair of those parents and others who were looking for their loved ones
- the reactions of politicians and office-holders, particularly the chief of Orlando Police, and the Mayor.
- the President responded to this tragedy in a somber and frustrated manner, appearing worn down by this senseless violence; this was reported as the fifteenth time in his Presidency that he had the burden of addressing the nation about such shootings
- the differing tones taken by the presumptive candidates for President; Trump, as usual, felt it necessary to denigrate both the President and Hillary Clinton
June 12, 2016. Orlando, FL. 50 killed, 53 Injured Orlando LGBT Nightclub Massacre largest shooting massacre to occur in USA. Omar Mateen, was the shooter, perhaps a sympathetic ISIS follower
Byran Koji Uyesugi, 40, a Xerox service technician, opened fire inside a building with 9mm Glock
- Since 1982, there have been at least 80 public mass shootings across the country, with the killings unfolding in 33 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Forty-three of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006. Seven of them took place in 2012 alone, including Sandy Hook.
- A recent analysis of this database by researchers at Harvard University, corroborated by a recent FBI study, determined that mass shootings have been on the rise.
- Of the 143 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines
- More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings.
- Forty-four of the killers were white males. Only one was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old. (See Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998.)
- A majority were mentally troubled—and many displayed signs of mental health problems before setting out to kill.
- Mass shootings represent only a sliver of America's overall gun violence
- Direct costs account for $8.6 billion—including long-term prison costs for people who commit assault and homicide using guns, which at $5.2 billion a year is the largest direct expense. Even before accounting for the more intangible costs of the violence, in other words, the average cost to taxpayers for a single gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000. And we pay for 32 of them every single day.
- Indirect costs amount to at least $221 billion, about $169 billion of which comes from what researchers consider to be the impact on victims' quality of life. Victims' lost wages, which account for $49 billion annually, are the other major factor.
- The shooters vary in many ways, including age, motive, mental state, and ties to groups.
- On the one hand, we are not being besieged by thousands of ISIS terrorists. Therefore, allowing an abject fear to be our primary motivator in our politics and in everyday life in America is not a healthy nor helpful approach
- On the other hand, there are enough lone-wolf ISIS sympathizers to require law enforcement, intelligence agencies and individual citizens to be wary of their activities, monitor their movements and to be vigilant in reporting circumstances that are suspicious
- Politicians who use mass shootings as fodder for demeaning other candidates, blaming the President, or furthering their own agenda are not worthy of anyone's vote.
- On the other hand, inaction on gun violence and mental health treatment and funding in regard to these multiple and tragic incidents is inexcusable. Legislatures at all levels are responsible for law-making to solve or resolve problems in society. Ignoring or obstructing such problem-solving is not acceptable.
- Ordinary citizens are responsible for communicating their concerns to their legislative representatives and protest is a right and responsibility placed upon us by our foundational documents. Citizens have a constitutional right to a "redress of grievances" and to ultimately make their voices heard by VOTING.
- Perhaps most apropos is the fact that legislators are responsible for providing resources to combat problems, meet needs, attend to emergencies, defend our nation, to resolve persistent problems and to provide for the General Welfare. If Congress fails to provide adequate funding for FBI agents, Intelligence officers, and federal Department of Justice personnel, and local and state legislatures fail to fund adequate numbers of first responders, how can we expect to address violence and terrorism in any meaningful way? We have been kept in Limbo too long.
- There is a pervasive atmosphere, passive acceptance and active encouragement of violence in our culture. The very fact that this many mass shootings have occurred since Columbine in 1999 is evidence enough that our culture has been corrupted by approving violence as an acceptable human behavior. What are some of the signs of this cultural strain; I can mention a few:
- Evidence is accumulating in schools and other institutions and organizations that bullying, taunting, demeaning of others is too often considered acceptable.
- The Republican candidate for President encourages and demonstrates his own affinity for violence as an acceptable and imperative method of governance and power-seeking.
- A penchant for War and a movement that organizes hate groups and racist purity groups is increasing.
- Attacks on groups and individuals of different religions, different ethnicities, different cultures, different characteristics from a white supremacist standard promotes division and enmity.
- We see and ignore the destruction of Planned Parenthood centers, attacks on doctors, and sometimes violent harassment of patients.
- We too often condone the use of military force as a primary means of controlling and reacting to other nations.
- We glorify guns and allow the NRA to dictate that second amendments rights are more important to defend than the lives of innocent victims of gun violence. Meanwhile the NRA spends outrageous sums to influence the promulgation of legislation, regulations, and policy, and to influence the outcome of elections in their favor.
- We condone rape on campuses made so real by a judge in California who exempted a rapist from jail time as though the rapist was the victim not the perpetrator of a violent act against a young woman.
- We revel in the violence of certain sports.
- The media and the arts are not exempt from their contributions to a culture of violence. Movies of a certain genre are particularly to blame for promoting violence not only as entertainment, but as heroic.
- And this list of overt violence leaves untold the stories of the covert violence of injustice, massive incarceration, segregation, lack of jobs, lack of services for certain populations. Underlying many of our institutions is the violence of racism and discrimination.
The Tony award TV show on Sunday evening, June 12th, tried to set a different tone and they are to be commended for that. The talented host of the Tony show commented that "Hate will not Win." Unfortunately, it sometimes does win because good people fail to speak out, leaders fail to lead and ordinary citizens fail to protest or to get involved in a persistent and unrelenting manner.
[Looking for more definitive solutions, try these websites for Ways to Stop Gun Violence: