In the early hours of this morning 29 year old Omar Mateen opened fire in the club ‘Pulse’ in Orlando, Florida. He was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun. He killed 50 people and injured a further 53. The death toll is likely to climb over the next few days. This is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. President Obama has said “This was an act of terror and hate”.
This incident came just two days after the fatal shooting of The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie which took place just four miles down the road.
These events are two of many that have already happened in the U.S this year. PBS reported that America had 372 mass shootings in 2015 alone. Think about it… that’s more than one mass shooting a day.
Watching the scenes of panic and despair in Florida from this side of the pond is surreal. We don’t have guns here. In 1996 there was a shooting in a little school in the Scottish town of Dunblane (tennis players Jamie and Andy Murray were pupils). 16 young children, along with their teacher, were killed by lone gunman Thomas Hamilton. Within 18 months the government passed a ban on private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain. We have some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world. Britain has never had the gun culture of America but the Dunblane massacre of innocents caused a shift in public opinion on guns. Thousands of legally-registered guns and ammunition were willingly surrendered. Penalties for people found in possession of illegal firearms can result in up to a 10 year prison sentence.
I feel terrible for the victims of the Florida shooting. They didn’t do anything wrong. They just went out for fun on a Saturday night. Maybe this will finally prompt America to get rid of their guns. One can only hope.