May 26, 2017 Last Updated 6:14 PM, Jun 22, 2016

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It's likely the entire world has now heard about the nightclub shootings in Orlando that took place over the weekend. It is now being called the worst mass shooting in American history. When friends got together to dance and have fun at the packed LGBT nightclub known as Pulse on Saturday evening, no one could have predicted that a 29-year-old security guard named Omar Mateen would open fire in the club.

Mateen fired indiscriminately into the crowd with a AR-15 rifle and a Glock handgun. The latest news reports the death toll at 49, with 53 injured. After taking hostages, Mateen was killed in a gun battle with police officers. Before the shooting, Mateen called the authorities to pledge his allegiance to ISIS. He had been under investigation twice in the past by the FBI, but was never arrested for anything. Though no official statement has been released by the police, there is speculation that he attacked the nightclub because he was anti-LGBT.

Far Too Common

It seems like a monthly occurrence; a gunman opens fire at a theater, a school, a business, a daycare, an apartment building. Some are mentally disturbed, some have pent-up rage or hatred towards a particular group of people, and others think they are fighting for a cause. Some obtained permits and guns legally, others were taken from family or friends, some were stolen. Some were lone shooters, others had a partner. Some are killed by law enforcement, some kill themselves, some are arrested. But one thing they all have in common that is truly frightening to ponder... they are almost expected.

In 1999, when two teenage attackers killed 13 people at a public high school in Columbine, the nation was stunned. But now it seems almost common place, though none the less tragic, when we hear of another shooting. There have been at least 81 mass shootings that have taken place in public places since 1982, with over half of them being in the last decade. Here is a timeline of mass shootings starting from June 2016, going back to 2012, the year with the most shootings on record.

A History of Violence

June 12, 2016 - 49 victims and the shooter were killed in Orlando, Florida after Omar Mateen stormed a nightclub with a rifle and handgun.

December 2, 2015 - A married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 and wounded 17 in a conference center in San Bernardino, California.

November 27, 2015 - Robert Dear, a 57-year-old man, opened fire on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Co, killing three and wounding 9 more. He was arrested.

October 1, 2015 – Gunman Chris Harper Mercer, 26, fired into a public speaking class at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He shot and killed 10 people before we was killed in a firefight with police.

July 16, 2015 - Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, killed four Marines and one Navy petty officer when he fired multiple shots at two separate military locations at the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Abdulazeez was killed.

June 17, 2015 – Nine people who had gathered to worship in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. were shot by 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, white man who harbored anti-black views. State senator Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney was among the dead.

October 24, 2014 – At a high school cafeteria in Marysville, Washington, 15-year-old Jaylen Ray Fryberg killed four people before killing himself.

May 23, 2014 – Gunman Elliot O. Rodger, a 22-year-old college student, killed three people in his apartment and three others on the street. He committed suicide.

April 2, 2014 – Ivan Lopez, an Iraqi war veteran, killed three people when he opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas. He injured another 16 before he shot himself.

September 16, 2013 – 34-year-old shooter Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist, murdered twelve at the Washington navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

June 7, 2013 – John Zawahri went on a firing spree in Santa Monica, roaming the streets and firing into traffic and buildings. He killed five people before he was shot by police at the Santa Monica College Library.

December 14, 2012 – Gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at home and then opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 young children and six school employees. He then killed himself in the second deadliest school shooting in U.S.

October 21, 2012 – Radcliffe F. Haughton, 45, entered a day spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin spraying bullets. After killing three, he turned the gun on himself.

September 27, 2012 - Andrew Engeldinger, 36, a employee who was fired from a sign company, went on a vengeance rampage in the business, killing five people including the owner and a UPS driver. The shooter was also killed.

August , 2012 – The leader of a white power group called End Apathy, Wade Michael Page, 40, killed six inside a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He was killed by police.

July 20, 2012 – Gunman James Holmes entered a movie theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises” and sprayed bullets into the crowd. He murdered twelve, including a 6-year-old girl, and wounded 70 more. He was arrested without incident and sentenced to life in prison.

April 2, 2012 – A 43-year-old man names One L. Goh, killed seven at a religious college in Oakland, California. The former student turned himself in and was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Searching for Answers

Some people think stricter gun laws would solve the problem. Others want to limit who we allow into the U.S., based on race and/or religion. Perhaps people that are mentally unstable aren’t getting the help they need to keep from spiraling out of control. No matter what is to blame, mass shootings are senseless, tragic, and we need to ban together as Americans and find a solution to this widespread problem.

If you would like to read a more in-depth study of mass shootings, we recommend this site.

For many, the popping didn’t register as anything other than the loud bass filling the nightclub. Then, in an instant, screams ripped through the music, ushering in chaos. Bullets from 29-year-old Omar Mateen’s Sig Sauer MCX Carbine collided with those seeking safety; when the noise was silenced, 50 were left dead and another 53 critically injured.

We recently discussed nightclub violence after Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib was shot in Dallas on June 5, and reviewed who could be held liable for such incidences. However, what occurred at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse, goes far beyond a fight between a few individuals. This was a deliberate, hate-fueled attack led by a self-proclaimed ISIS sympathizer; the worst attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and the greatest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The Real Questions
The question we feel compelled to ask is, “How can a man such as Omar legally purchase a weapon?”

Regardless of where you come down with the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, most of us should be able to agree that the restrictions are in place to keep such men with evil intent from purchasing a gun. Omar acquired the .233 caliber Sig Sauer MCX Carbine and a Glock handgun within the last week, despite the fact that he had been interviewed by the FBI three times since 2013 due to his connection in two separate cases.

According to law enforcement, shortly before beginning his killing spree, Omar made a 911 call declaring his allegiance to the self proclaimed Islamic State. While it is unsure if there is a direct connection, ISIS recently called on all Muslims across the globe to attack western targets. Omar’s ex-wife stated that he was mentally-ill and often abusive. Co-workers described him as “extreme” in his religious beliefs.

Whether a true member of ISIS or a mentally-ill individual, the question remains the same: how did the current system fail to keep him from buying weapons?

Completely Legal Purchase

Homeland Security undersecretary John Cohen stated, "Being on the watch list is not in itself disqualifying, under law. The disqualifying elements of the investigation may be classified." In Florida, one must wait three days to purchase a handgun, however a weapon like an Sig Sauer MCX Carbine doesn’t require a permit, registration, or even a license. Florida joins Kansas, Vermont, South Dakota, Alaska, Missouri, Wyoming, Kentucky, Arizona, Mississippi, and Louisiana as states with the least restrictive gun control.

Therefore, despite the obvious (albeit possibly in hindsight) warning signs for Omar, he purchased the weapons that would later shoot over 100 people legally and through the proper channels. In fact, out of the shooters involved in mass shootings in the U.S. between 1982 and 2012, 49 purchased their weapons legally while only 12 did not (one unknown).

The Solution?

Should the United States develop new gun control measures that all states must adhere to or is there another answer? According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013, policies like a more complete background check for private and gun show sales is favored by the public.

Other widely accepted policies (where more than 50% sided) included: preventing those with mental illness from purchasing a gun, creating a federal database to track gun sales, armed security guards at schools, ban on semi-automatic weapons, ban on assault style weapons (the Sig Sauer MCX Carbine used by Omar is the apparent weapon of choice of mass killers in the U.S.), a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, and a ban on the online purchase of ammunition. Had these policies been enacted, the chances of Omar obtaining a gun and storming the nightclub drop dramatically (along with other mass shootings).

What is your opinion? What steps, if any, does the U.S. need to make to address this growing issue within the Unites States?

 

Sources Cited

Daly, M., Miller, J., Zavadski, K., & Harris, S. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/12/omar-mateen-id-d-as-orlando-killer.html

Ehrenfreund, M. (n.d.). Orlando shooting: The key things to know about about guns and mass shootings in America. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/12/orlando-shooting-the-key-things-to-know-about-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-america/

Keneally, M. (n.d.). Orlando Shooter Legally Bought Guns Despite Previous Flags by FBI. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com/US/orlando-shooter-bought-guns-previous-flags-fbi/story?id=39799861

Romney, G. (2015, October 20). The 10 states with the least restrictive gun laws | Deseret News. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.deseretnews.com/top/3430/0/The-10-states-with-the-least-restrictive-gun-laws.html 

Rothwell, J. (n.d.). Orlando gunman used Sig Sauer MCX Carbine assault rifle to kill his victims - the weapon of choice for mass shooters. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/12/orlando-shooting-gunman-omar-mateen-used-Sig Sauer MCX Carbine -assault-rifle-to/

Going Up Against the Insurance Companies

In March 2008, Ms. Ashlee Pagan was driving her truck when it struck a car that had turned in front of her. She filed suit, alleging the driver of the other car was negligent and caused the crash that resulted in injuries to her neck and left shoulder and damage to her truck. Ms. Pagan added Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company as a defendant in the lawsuit to access coverage under her own underinsured motorist insurance policy. She settled with the other driver, and the case proceeded to a jury trial in which the only disputed issues were the cause and extent of Ms. Pagan's alleged injuries. Farmers stipulated that the other driver's negligence was the proximate cause of the collision and that Pagan was covered under the Farmers policy.

Over 25,000 accidents happen annually in Texas due to factors related to driver speed. In most of those cases, the cause of the crash was due to excessive speed. Occasionally, however, an accident can be caused by an unexpected reduction in speed. An accident, which occurred earlier this year in Houston, was just such an occurrence.

A Texas physician recently tried to avoid a personal injury lawsuit by asserting an interesting claim. He claimed he was on his cell phone talking to a hospital at the time his car struck a cyclist, and therefore he should be protected under the law.

Many may be unaware of the growing number of accidents involving motorists and pedestrians. Despite the fact that such occurrences should be easy to avoid, the number of those hit and hurt is on the rise. All drivers should strive to practice safety while traveling, not just when it comes to the other vehicles on the road, but also those crossing the street, exercising, and riding bikes.

Texas is a large state with a varied topography.  From mountain peaks to sea level coastal areas, Texas has its share of highways and byways. With millions of Texans and other visitors to the state traveling regularly on these roads, it is essential that they are properly constructed and maintained. A critical part of this process is the installation of guardrails.

Three young women were killed in the Dallas area after a man allegedly ran a red light and collided with the car in which three women were riding, causing the vehicle to spin into a traffic light pole. A fourth passenger in the vehicle was injured in the crash, which occurred during the early morning hours. The driver who allegedly caused the accident has been charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter.

When an driver is killed by an uninsured motorist, the victim’s surviving relatives can sometimes sue for damages. Although a motorist’s lack of insurance may indicate a deeper problem when it comes to collecting monetary damages, there are several routes that a victim’s family can utilize to receive compensation for their tragic loss. If you’ve lost a loved one, you should talk to an attorney who can help you understand your rights.

We have probably all seen it before while traveling (or been a part of it); a driver cutting off numerous drivers, riding their bumpers, honking and screaming unheard obscenities as they speed pass you. Many people consider this to be “road rage”. However, this type of driving might be better defined as aggressive driving. There is a major difference between these two; aggressive driving is a traffic offense, while road rage is a criminal offense.

Slip and Fall 

In December 2012, Terrance Findley slipped and fell down inside a Houston-based Petco store, severely injuring his knee. Findley filed a suit against Petco in a Texas court for negligence, seeking damages for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment, and medical expenses.  

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