The June 12 shooting massacre in Orlando that claimed the lives of 50 people has left a nation shocked and saddened – once again. Even though it was the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history, the Orlando tragedy has not triggered a resolve to end mass slayings caused by guns.
Deadly shootings — whether they happen at a school, a movie theater, a place of worship or a nightclub — seem only to embolden the rancor between people who support or oppose gun control measures. Until compromises are made to better monitor the sale of handguns and to ban the sale of military-style rifles, what happened in Orlando will surely happen again. Without taking action to prevent another shooting spree, we are all indirectly responsible for perpetuating this culture of violence.
Mass shootings in the United States are unparalleled. From 1966 to 2012, about one-third of the world’s mass shootings took place in the United States, according to a 2016 study cited June 13 by CNN.com.
Between 1982 and 2016, there have been at least 82 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data assembled by Mother Jones magazine. The magazine uses the same criteria as the FBI to define a mass shooting: an attack in a public place in which four or more victims were killed. The formula was lowered in 2013 to three or more victims.
Since 2006, 45 of these mass shootings have occurred, with seven of them in 2012. The Washington Post, quoting a 2014 FBI report, also noted an uptick in what the FBI calls “active shooting situations.” From 2000 to 2007, there was an average of 6.4 active shootings per year. From 2007 to 2013, the incidents increased to 16.4 per year.,
The latest mass killing targeted members of Orlando’s gay and lesbian community. In addition to the 49 victims, the gunman, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, wounded 53 others. Mateen, who claimed ties to the Islamic State terrorist group, legally purchased the two weapons he used in the rampage. One of them was an assault rifle developed for U.S. special operations forces.
The rifle, a Sig Sauer MCX, fires 24 shots in nine seconds. The civilian version is a semi-automatic weapon can hold up to 30 rounds of ammunition in its magazine. “The MCX is known in military circles as the ‘Black Mamba’ and was developed at the request of the U.S. Army’s special operations forces,” according to Mother Jones.
The availability of these military weapons, the guns of choice for perpetrators of mass shootings, needs to be outlawed. They serve no other purpose than to endanger innocent civilians. James Holmes used an AR-15 assault rifle to kill 12 people and injure 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Adam Lanza used a .223 Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle to massacre 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., in 2012.
A shift in the acceptance of these weapons by our elected leaders needs to happen. More religious leaders need to speak out against them. Clerics like Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla. In a statement on the Orlando shootings, Bishop Lynch condemned the availability of assault rifles.
“Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are intended to be weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents.”
While we can all debate the usefulness of handguns and concealed carry permits, there should be no wavering on the ban of assault weapons. Let’s continue to pray for an end to gun violence and for the victims and families of the Orlando massacre. But let’s also demand that laws be made to restrict assault weapons. This will help answer those prayers.