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The Events at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando: Searching for Answers

Saturday night’s massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando has been labeled “home-grown terrorism” by President Obama.

Just over 24 hours after the shooting death of YouTube sensation Christina Grimmie at a post-performance meet and greet Friday night, the worst gun massacre in American history unfolded at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Reports claim as many as 49 people lost their lives in the attack that took place between 2:00 am and 5:00 am on June 12, with an estimated 70 more people wounded.

The perpetrator of the attack, Omar Mateen, has been described as “mentally ill” by his ex-wife—perhaps as a result of taking steroids. He was also investigated by federal authorities—twice— for making threatening statements to his coworkers and online. Despite these concerns, he was placed in a position of great responsibility as an armed security guard at G4S Security Systems. He was also allowed to purchase firearms as a private citizen. In tracing the serial number on the murder weapon, authorities quickly ascertained that Mateen purchased the weapon legally in Florida, about a week before the shootings.

After every mass shooting, the issue of gun manufacturers’ immunity from personal injury lawsuits comes up. Unlike every other industry in the United States, gun makers are shielded from lawsuits if their products kill people. Furthermore, political pressure has forbid the federal government from even creating a database that accounts for all the gun deaths in this country.

The result is a trail of bodies stretching from Newtown, Connecticut to San Bernardino, California.

There is also still much to learn about the security situation at Pulse. It has been confirmed that a uniformed, off-duty police officer exchanged fire with Mateen. But after the shootings at Irving Plaza in New York and the murder of Christina Grimmie the night before at a concert venue in Miami, it seems reasonable that nightclubs everywhere should have increased their security—as many have done since Saturday night. Unfortunately this tombstone mentality, where the number of deaths is what drives reform, can only be employed after people have already lost their lives.

As the nation grapples with understanding this senseless tragedy, Levine and Wiss encourages you to stay safe when visiting nightclubs. If you have an uneasy feeling about the security of a particular club, perhaps try another one. And as always, if you see something, say something.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims in Florida, as well as all the innocents injured by gun violence in this great nation.