12 June 2016

The Pulse Nightclub Massacre In Orlando, Florida

As I write the carnage consists of 50 people were killed and 53 hospitalized after Omar Mateen, a U.S. born Muslim man from an Afghani family who had been employed for years as an armed security guard in Florida, shot them with an assault rifle near the 2 a.m. Sunday closing time at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a gay dance club.  He made a 911 call pledging allegiance to ISIS before making his shooting spree and eventually being killed in a barrage of gunfire from 11 law enforcement officers following a three hour hostage situation that persisted until 5 a.m. local time.  Not long before the incident, according to his father, he'd expressed disgust at seeing two men kissing in Miami, Florida.  He had a history of domestic violence with his ex-wife although it isn't clear that charges were ever filed.  It is the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history.

In an apparently unrelated incident a man heavily armed with guns and explosive was intercepted and arrested in greater Los Angeles en route to a gay pride parade there within the last day or so.

These incidents are all too common.  9News lists a few of the most notable incidents:
• April 16, 2007: Seung Hui Cho, a 23-year-old student, went on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., killing 32 people, before killing himself. 
• Dec. 14, 2012: Adam Lanza, 20, gunned down 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself. 
• Oct. 16, 1991: George Hennard, 35, crashed his pickup through the wall of Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. He shot and killed 23 people before committing suicide. 
• July 18, 1984: James Huberty, 41, gunned down 21 adults and children at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, Calif., before being killed by police. 
• Aug. 1, 1966: Charles Joseph Whitman, a former U.S. Marine, shot and killed 16 people from a university tower at the University of Texas in Austin before being shot by police. 
• Aug. 20, 1986: A part-time mail carrier, Patrick Henry Sherrill, shot and killed 14 postal workers in Edmund, Okla., before killing himself. 
• Dec. 2, 2015: Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple living in Redlands, Calif., opened fire at a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party, killing 14 people and injuring 22 in a matter of minutes. Farook, an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, worked at the health department. Malik had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a Facebook post before the shooting.
• Nov. 5, 2009: U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured 30 others at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas. Hasan, a psychiatrist, appeared to have been radicalized by an Islamic cleric. He was convicted and sentenced to death. 
• Sept. 16, 2013: Gunman Aaron Alexis, 34, fatally shot 12 people and injured three others at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C. He was later killed by police. 
• July 20, 2012: James Holmes gunned down 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. Last year he was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder and sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences plus 3,318 years without parole. 
• Oct. 1, 2015: Christopher Harper-Mercer, a 26-year-old student at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Ore., shot an assistant professor and eight students in a classroom. After a shootout with police, he committed suicide. 
• June 18, 2015: A gunman opened fire at a weekly Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Nine people were killed, including the pastor Clementa Pinckney; a 10th victim survived. The morning after the attack police arrested a suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, who said he wanted to start a race war. Laywers for Roof, who was charged in the rampage, last week filed papers seeking to waive his right to a jury trial. 
• July 16, 2015: Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn. The first was a drive-by shooting at a recruiting center; the second was at a U.S. Navy Reserve center. Four Marines and a Navy sailor died; a Marine recruit officer and a police offer were wounded. Abdulazeez was killed by police in a gunfight. 
• Nov. 27, 2015: A gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., killing a police officer and two civilians and injuring nine others. Robert Lewis Dear was taken into custody after a five-hour standoff and charged with first-degree murder.
The bottom line is that a status quo where these kinds of incidents are not only possible, but routine, illustrates the need for change.

We need to repeal the Second Amendment.

We need to get America's vast arsenal of small arms off the streets, out of homes and out of businesses.

We need to prioritize a system to pro-actively identify armed people with a history of domestic violence or other violent crimes or mental health issues, and disarm them promptly, because prevention is the only viable means to address mass shootings - essentially 100% of the shooters are promptly kills or incarcerated in prison or mental health facilities for life.  Anyone should be able to notify authorities of an alleged violent or mental health incident, and anyone on that list should be notified and required to clear himself or herself by clear and convincing evidence if he or she wants to continue to own or buy or possess a firearm.  The potential harm justifies erring on the side of caution.

Civilians who are openly carrying firearms in a municipality should be shot by law enforcement officials on sight, no questions asked.  Openly carrying a firearm transmits a powerful non-verbal threat to kill anyone in sight. A civilian openly carrying a firearm in a municipality is pretty much by definition a violent criminal.

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