Once again, we’re reading about a mass shooting—this one the deadliest so far, with 50 dead in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We’ve learned that the alleged shooter, born in the United States to immigrant parents, appears to have been volatile and prone to angry outbursts.
He’d made threats about killings months earlier, according to news reports of interviews with coworkers and family members. Reports also indicate that he professed a hatred of gays and, during the attack, pledged allegiance to the radical Islamic terrorist group ISIS. He had been investigated by the FBI at earlier dates in conjunction with suspected terrorist activities.
And also once again, we learn that the guns, including an assault-style semiautomatic rifle*, were purchased legally. Assault rifles like the one used in Orlando are often used by mass shooters. Assault weapons had once been banned—but when the ban expired in 2004, it was not renewed by Congress, nor does it seem likely to be.
AJN, along with countless other health journals and organizations, has lent its voice to the call to address gun violence as a public health issue and institute reasonable gun control laws that deny access to guns to those on terrorist watch lists and others who may pose a significant threat.
What if we actually repeated the results seen in Australia after new restrictions were put in place limiting access to such gun types as assault rifles and pump action shot guns? There were 13 mass shootings in the 18 years preceding passage of Australia’s 1996 gun law. It was followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings.
Here’s an issue all nurses should get behind.
(Correction: News stories initially reported that the shooter had used a rifle known as the AR-15. In fact, he used a Sig Sauer MCX; the legal version fires on semiautomatic and it has a magazine capacity of 30 rounds. It was reportedly designed at the request of the U.S. Special Forces for use in military missions, and fits the definition found in Merriam-Webster dictionary of an assault rifle: “any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use.”)