Today marks a year since a gunman entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and carried out the deadliest mass shooting in US history, taking the lives of 49 people and injuring another 53 in a deeply disturbing act of terrorism and hate. Armed with military-style assault weapons, the shooter was able to fire hundreds of rounds into the crowd of clubgoers without pausing to reload, maximizing the carnage.
Last week, Orlando again was the site of another senseless shooting—a disgruntled former employee entered the warehouse where he used to work, singling out and killing five victims before turning the gun on himself. Yet again, the city was forced to mourn the tragic loss of life that happens far too often in our nation—the incident was the 144th mass shooting of 2017. According to The Trace’s analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, since the Pulse nightclub shooting, more than 250 people have been shot, 81 fatally, in Orlando, a small city of about 260,000.
Florida has incredibly weak gun laws, and as a result, it’s far too easy for guns to fall into the hands of dangerous people who want to carry out acts of violence. Weak concealed carry standards, onerous preemption laws, and a deadly stand your ground statute all contribute to Florida’s abysmally high gun death rate—about four times higher per capita than Massachusetts, a state with some of the nation’s strongest gun laws. Unfortunately, Florida isn’t alone when it comes to lax gun laws. It’s one of a shocking 25 states that earns an F on our annual Gun Law State Scorecard.
Last summer, in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting, dozens of senators and representatives bravely led filibusters and sit-ins to demand votes on universal background checks and other lifesaving policies. Yet congressional leadership has refused to act, even though more than 90% of Americans support expanding background checks to close the private sale loophole. In fact, the primary gun bills on Congress’s agenda in the current session are to deregulate silencers and to make it easier for untrained individuals to carry guns in public, both pieces of legislation backed by the gun lobby and designed to bring new profits to the gun industry at the expense of public safety.
As we honor the memory of those innocent Americans gunned down in the dark a year ago tonight, it’s essential that we also demand our leaders stand up to the gun lobby and pass the smart gun laws that save lives.
Visit the Gun Law State Scorecard to see how your state stacks up, and learn more about what lawmakers can do to safeguard communities from gun violence.