Earlier this month, 49 people were killed during an early morning shooting at a nightclub (Pulse) in Orlando, Florida. According to reports, the victims range in age from 18 to 50 years old and include a barista, an accountant, and a recent high school graduate.
The perpetrator, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. born son of Afghan immigrants, was fatally shot by police who stormed the nightclub with armored cars after a three-hour siege.
What's mind boggling to me is how mass shootings in America are so heavily politicized by both conservatives and liberals. In reference to this tragedy, we have heard the opinions from 2016 U.S. presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, both agree that individuals suspected of having connections to terrorism or who are not allowed to fly on commercial airlines should also be barred from purchasing guns.
There were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogs such incidents. In the U.S. a mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.
Although many conservatives strongly believe these numbers are fudged in favor of liberal gun violence prevention advocates, the fact still remains that just one day after the December 2nd (2015) shootings in San Bernardino, U.S. Senate Republicans rejected a bill aimed to stop suspected terrorists from legally purchasing guns in America.
Update: On 06/20/2016
The U.S. Senate rejected four measures restricting guns in America. Lawmakers were still trying to forge a compromise that could keep firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists.
I spoke with a representative of U.S. Senator Richard Burr (NC) and was advised that Republicans were concerned that Americans wrongfully placed on the watch list right to due process would be violated.
In 2013, FBI agents investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months but closed the investigation after following a standard checklist. Mateen reemerged on the radar two months after the initial investigation closed, but the Bureau still couldn't find anything directly linking him to terrorist organizations.
When the FBI has reason to suspect someone of extremist activity, they open an investigative file and gather all the pertinent information they can. But once they conclude that there's no evidence of lawlessness, they close the file.
Besides, even if the FBI would've placed Mateen on the terrorist list, he still would've been able to legally obtain weapons because of the inaction of the U.S. Senate back in December 2015.
No matter how you may feel about the right to bear arms or stricter gun control laws needed in America, there's no denying that assault-style rifles are far too easily obtained. These weapons of war are designed to cause the maximum damage in the shortest time without having to reload and in my opinion, should be prohibited for sales to civilians.
As it pertains to gun control in America, it's time for President Obama and Congressional leaders to agree to disagree on some issues, but start finding common ground in hopes of containing this growing epidemic.
Whether you choose to blame a particular religion, the NRA, gun control advocates, pro-gun loyalist or one's lifestyle choice, playing the blame game will only lead to more confusion and senseless acts of gun violence in this country.
It's high time for Washington to start acting in the best interest of their constituents and not for special interest groups. My heart and prayers go out to the survivors of the Orlando tragedy because their lives will never be the same. Hopefully, provisions are being made for the physical and mental health care needed for their recovery.
During an armed robbery at the age of seven in Harlem, I witnessed the murders of my mother Helen Thomas, her boyfriend Ian Richardson and my Godmother, Ethylene Carne. Although I suffered from a gunshot wound, it was the mental scars that did the most significant damage. Since this tragic event, I have been clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)