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The Orlando Massacre: Can Florida Gun Regulations Finally be Changed?

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Gun laws in Florida
Gun laws in Florida
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On June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando , Florida. He killed 49 people and wounded 53 more. This is the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. In the days and weeks that followed, media stories were full of speculation. Was this an act of terrorism? Was it true that Mateen was gay himself and motivated by self-loathing? As it turned out, there was no evidence that Mateen had any terrorist ties, and no evidence that he was gay. Ultimately, he was just an angry agitated male with a disturbing history of abuse, misogyny, and threat making. He also had fantasies about going into law enforcement. In other words, he embodied many of the traits of the typical mass shooter.

Ultimately, Mateen isn't the important element in this tragedy. Unfettered access to firearms is. There will always be angry, antisocial people with violent tendencies. That cannot be legislated away. What can be legislated is whether or not they can purchase guns, and whether or not they can purchase guns that have no other purpose than to kill as many people as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen in Florida.

It All Starts With The NRA

Let's be honest. There are two kinds of politicians in the state of Florida. There are those who are afraid of the NRA and those who actively seek the approval of the organization and its members along with their donations. Why does the NRA have so much power when other extremist organizations haven't managed to gain nearly as much clout? They're huge, they're loaded, they're well organized, and they will swiftly work to punish any politician who runs afoul of them.

Consider the case of conservative republican Charles McBurney. McBurney is a republican legislator from Florida who is seeking an appointment as a circuit court judge. In his tenure as a politician, he has consistently voted in favor of the NRA's interests. There was only one exception to this. In his position as head of the house judiciary committee, he refused to bring a bill up for voting that would bolster the controversial stand your ground law. As punishment for this act of betrayal, the NRA quickly organized an email campaign to get Gov. Scott Walker to deny McBurney's appointment. The end result is that over 5,000 emails hit Walker's inbox in short order. That's what the NRA does to its allies when they step out of line.

The organization also hands out grades to politicians as if they are children. All it takes to get a low rating is a single vote against a pro-gun measure. The reason for the vote doesn't matter. Sadly, because the organization has done such an effective job of whipping up fear among its members that their guns will be seized, bad grade from the NRA is going to cost them votes . In conservative Florida, this is especially true.

More of The Same

Why would anybody expect the Orlando shooting to effect any change in gun legislation? No such changes have come as the result of any other mass shootings in recent years, and there have been plenty of them. Even states that are much more left-leaning than Florida haven't done much to tighten up gun restrictions. In fact, in some states, politicians have worked to make access to assault weapons even easier. People and politicians who do advocate for change are shouted down as being un-American, so people are afraid to take a leadership role on this issue. Theories are floated around that claim that a single good guy with a gun could have stopped the attack, in spite of all evidence being to the contrary. Even suggestions such as limiting round capacity or preventing those on the terror watch list from purchasing guns are too much for the right to bear. Besides, if the slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook isn't enough to result in significant changes to gun laws, why would the murder of a bunch of gay men in a nightclub?

An Expanding Culture of Violence Bigotry Fear Mongering And Anti-intellectualism

Ultimately, the lack of action when it comes to Florida's gun laws is simply a reflection of the growing base of angry, bigoted, fearful men and women who make up the loudest portion of the GOP. They eschew science and facts. They cheer on a child who repeatedly screams 'take the her down!' when referring to Hillary Clinton at a Trump rally. They nominate a man for the highest office in the land who gleefully mocks the disabled and doesn't understand why we don't just nuke our enemies. They bombard the president's twitter feed with racist remarks. Until people like this are marginalized and minimized, there could be a hundred more mass shootings in the state of Florida and nothing will change that.

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Norman Arvidsson is an independent author based in Atlanta, GA, USA. He writes with the purpose to share his experience and knowledge with others.
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