USA, Orlando and the Epidemic of Violence

June 13, 2016

orlando- prensa latinaThis Sunday’s massacre at a nightclub in Orlando Florida, where 50 people died and another 53 were injured, adds new elements to the debate on armed violence in the United States.

President Barack Obama defined this tragedy, perpetrated by an individual of Afghan origin, as an act of terror and hate and according to the President was the worst civilian mass murder in U.S. history.

The tragedy occurred amidst the campaigning leading up to the presidential election on November 8 between the presumptive candidates Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The real estate tycoon took advantage of the occasion on Sunday to lash out once more against Muslims in general and to expose even more his known xenophobic and racist positions. He even demanded that Obama resign for supposed lack of action to stop criminal acts such as this.

For her part, Clinton advocated for the redoubling of efforts to defend the country from “the threats from inside and outside”. She went on to say that people like the alleged attacker in Orlando should not have had access to weapons and that laws regulating the buying, selling and possession should have more regulation.

Revelations that shooter Omar Mateen promised allegiance to the Islamic State before committing this crime and that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had indications of his violent nature has raised questions about if federal authorities could have prevented it.

The mass murder at the Pulse Nightclub along with other deadly killings over the last few months has raised once again the debate about guns and armed violence that according to Obama is a real epidemic that threatens U.S. society. There are over 30,000 violent homicides that happen each year in the country.

Since 2009 over 50 massacres have occurred in this country either  in civil or military institutions. Among the most notorious occurred on December 14, 2012 in a school of Newtown, Connecticut, where over 20 young children and six adults were killed.

The Republican opposition and the U.S. ultra-right have blockaded Obama’s intentions for gun control , with the backing of the heavily endowed National Rifle Association, that lobbies in favor of weapon manufacturers.

Last January Obama White House presented a plan against armed violence that included a dozen executive actions. Despite the seriousness of the situation the problem has not even been one of the main issues of the campaign for President. However the Pulse massacre has at least temporarily brought the issue back to the center stage of the political debate

Since 2009 when Obama entered the White House greater control over firearms has been one of his promises that has not happened even though over half the population considers it urgent.

With little time left for Obama in the White House and the strong Republican opposition to any measures that regulate the possession of weapons by civilians, everything seems to point to things remaining the same despite the Orlando massacre. Even more tragic is the distinct possibility that something equally horrendous or worse could happen in the near future.

Source: Prensa Latina