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There's A Reason Nothing Happened After Pulse Shooting

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Pulse shooting in Orlando was awful. There’s no real debate about that, nor should there be. It was real and terrible and all the things we should hope to never see again.

Unfortunately, we will. Some humans are just broken and all they want to do is see people suffer.

However, there weren’t any major changes to gun control laws in the aftermath of the shooting, and for some people, that’s as much of a crime as the shooting.

Gun reform advocates vowed action after 49 people were killed in the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando five years ago, but since then state and federal leaders have accomplished little toward that goal.

After years of repeated mass shootings, including the third in Miami in two weeks on Sunday, advocates worry the country is becoming numb to gun violence.

“We’re living now in a culture that has normalized these mass shootings,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a senior adviser to the gun reform group called Giffords and a former Democratic congresswoman from South Florida. “We’re living in a culture where Americans love their guns more than they love their community members, their neighbors, their friends. And unfortunately, many people think that this is one more incident that’s happening in another city, and it doesn’t touch you.”

Days after Pulse on June 12, 2016, Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House trying to force Republicans to vote on gun control. But the effort failed, as did Democratic calls for a special session of the Florida Legislature to address reforms.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, has introduced bills to ban sales of assault-style rifles in Florida every year since his election in 2016. None has come to a vote in the GOP-controlled chamber.

“We’ve got problems in Tallahassee because we appear to be going in the opposite direction,” Smith said. “We have not been given a single hearing by the majority party, even if symbolic. They refuse to put this issue on the agenda. [But] the issue is not going away.”

Just this year, Democratic bills to require background checks for the sale or transfer of ammunition, increasing requirements for safe storage of firearms, and to allow local governments to set their own gun laws all failed to come to a vote on the floor.

So why is that? Why is it that there was this awful nightclub shooting–an LGBT club during PRIDE Month, even–and then nothing actually happens?

Because there was nothing to really be done.

Yeah, I get that Smith has put an assault weapon ban bill in every legislative session, but it’s awfully bold to assume that such a measure would stop the next such attack. Also, it ignores the fact that the Heller decision made it clear that it was unconstitutional to ban categories of firearms in common use, which so-called assault weapons are.

Bills requiring background checks don’t do anything because most of the mass shooters don’t have a criminal history that would bar them from being able to purchase guns or ammunition. Requiring mandatory storage? The shooter owned the rifle he used. I’m pretty sure he would have been able to gain access pretty easily.

And this is a good chunk of why little happens after these shootings. It’s because the anti-gunners trot out legislation that has absolutely nothing to do with what happened.

But in the case of the Pulse aftermath, little happened because nothing needed to happen.

The issue with mass shootings isn’t the weapons used but the shooters themselves. They’re the problem. They’re the people so broken, so screwed up that they see no issue with walking into a nightclub and opening fire, claiming 49 innocent lives. It’s there that we need to focus our attentions. We need to figure out why people do this and what we can do about it.

It won’t be simple or easy, but it’s not a simple or easy problem.

And that’s the issue with gun control. It’s a simplistic answer to a complex problem.

Oct 21, 2021 8:30 AM ET