Early this morning it was reported that a gunman killed four children and himself
after shooting a police officer and barricading himself in an Orlando apartment for over 24 hours.
What makes this mass shooting even harder to face is that today, June 12, marks two years since 49 people were murdered at the gay nightclub Pulse. Since then, 17 students and teachers were murdered on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
While the victims of Pulse and Parkland will never be forgotten, it's the frequent mass shootings, like what occurred last night in Orlando, that often get unfairly lost in the numbers.
What's often blurred through headlines and our 24-hour news cycle is that Florida has a serious gun violence problem. Between June 12, 2016, to now, the state of Florida has experienced a total of 51 mass shootings. Of those incidents, 118 have died and 280 were injured.
This data comes from the Gun Violence Archives
, a nonprofit research group that tracks gun violence using police reports, over 2,000 nationwide media outlets and other public resources.
We should note that there are many ways to define a "mass shooting." The GVA uses the same definition as the U.S. Congressional Research Service, which is: "four or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter."
The data from GVA is absolutely brutal to comb through. On a larger scale, there have been 701 mass shootings nationally since Pulse, and six of those have taken place in Orlando.
Commenters will certainly squabble over the definition of a mass shooting, but these aren't the only tragedies worth our attention. According to a new report from the New York Times (
which used the same data from GVA), since Pulse there have been 87 shootings within a three-mile radius of the club and 392 shootings within a 15-mile radius.
As a country we are now averaging a staggering 96 deaths a day from gunfire, a number equal to nearly two Pulse attacks daily.
There are plenty of factors that contribute to our country's unique gun violence epidemic
, and yes, it is unique. No other major nation has our astronomical level of gun ownership. Americans make up 4.4 percent of the global population, and also own 42 percent of the world’s guns.
So, it's not hard to see how we're stuck in a dark, perpetual cycle of gun addiction. There's a reason why gun licenses skyrocketed in Florida
after Pulse, and do after every mass shooting, for that matter. The more we're told to live in fear of gun violence, the more people think they need guns to protect themselves. The more guns there are, the more people die from gun violence.
As the survivors of Parkland have consistently pointed out, it's easy to connect this issue to blatant complacency and inaction from our elected officials. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has done an amazing job over the past seven years at doing absolutely nothing about gun violence
Sure, on a legislative level, things have gotten slightly better in Florida since Parkland. Last March, Scott did sign in moderate statewide gun reform, including "hardening" schools, raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21 and extending the waiting period to three days. However, it's important to remember that Scott also did absolutely nothing to prevent gun violence in the 612 days between Pulse and Parkland.
"The promise to take executive action and protect LGBTQ state workers from discrimination became a broken one," said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith in an op-ed for Orlando Weekly
. "His next budget signing slashed mental health funding statewide by $11 million – $5 million in cuts to Central Florida alone. Taxpayer funds were not made available for the Pulse memorial. When the media spotlight faded from Orlando, Rick Scott pushed our community back into the closet and disappeared."
Yesterday, exactly two years later, Scott has finally made the decision to dedicate June 12 as Pulse Remembrance Day
in Florida. However, as bookends to the 51 mass shootings that have happened since Pulse, Florida now wears the awful badge of hosting two out of the 10 worst mass shootings in modern American history
, and it happened under one person's watch.
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