Orlando shooting fuels debate on gun control

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Orlando attack reignites gun control debate

Early Sunday morning, right around last call, a gunman walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire with an assault rifle and handgun, killing 49 people and injuring 53. The suspect, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, allegedly was upset about seeing two men kissing in Miami, and his father said that might be related to the attack. Mateen also claimed loyalty to the Islamic State during the attack, according to various news outlets.

The violence marked the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and has reignited the debate about gun control.

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Orlando shooting fuels debate on gun control
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People wave rainbow flags and hold portraits on the Place de la Comedie in Montpellier on June 13, 2016 as they pay homage to the victims of a shooting at a gay nighclub in Orlando. / AFP / SYLVAIN THOMAS (Photo credit should read SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Since he was a boy, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla loved to dance. Early Sunday morning, he was dancing and laughing with his friends at Pulse nightclub in Orlando when a gunman stormed and shot him. Laureano Disla was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon moved from Puerto Rico to Vero Beach, longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano said, and was immediately promoted to manager at a shoe store. He was a protector, confidant and hero, Gmys-Casiano said. Wilson-Leon died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He was 37. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Enrique L. Rios left his home in New York to spend the weekend celebrating a friend's birthday in Orlando. He was killed in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub Sunday. He was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
To Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, good living was all about looking, smelling and feeling his best, loved ones said. He and his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, were together at Pulse nightclub early Sunday, and both were among the victims who died in the shooting. Perez was 35. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
#PulseShooting victim Mercedez Marisol Flores lived "her life way she wanted to" https://t.co/UvRbZGXrkR https://t.co/XUavmANlgV
#PulseShooting victim Javier Jorge-Reyes had "a caring heart" https://t.co/nj8mHDAzj5 https://t.co/zEsCirT0tv
#PulseShooting victim Darryl Roman Burt II: The kind of person always willing to help https://t.co/XWZUMK3v96 https://t.co/P34dZLLTMI
#PulseShooting victim Jerald Arthur Wright: part of a tight-knit Disney family https://t.co/9VDSBbAtlM https://t.co/bqIHItjzMx
#PulseShooting victim Juan Chavez Martinez remembered as kind boss https://t.co/Q9LoBEzR9a https://t.co/750dJv1k9O
#PulseShooting victim Edward Sotomayor Jr.: Travel site brand manager mourned https://t.co/4WvuWpf1WO https://t.co/WnmtowrNv0
#PulseShooting victim Stanley Almodovar III: "Amazing person with a good soul" https://t.co/TptiBAC0F4 https://t.co/A8uTHkdIUv
#PulseShooting victim Kimberly 'KJ' Morris: Bouncer at nightclub always wore a smile https://t.co/Qhc11pIm7x https://t.co/xv6btN6fJt
#PulseShooting Juan Ramon Guerrero: Clubgoer went to Pulse with boyfriend https://t.co/2O1PtMLd7N https://t.co/ARI2JrhUNe
#PulseShooting victim Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz called "wonderful cousin" https://t.co/2AimnbgmRl https://t.co/6HdUFZLxab
#PulseShooting victim Luis Vielma: Theme-park worker was "true friend" https://t.co/2ndLrp6fZ4 https://t.co/ZCHPkqdD9M
#PulseShooting victim Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera: Always willing to help https://t.co/u4y9djGfjO https://t.co/50wYaYsxbi
#PulseShooting victim Eddie Justice texted his mother he loved her during shooting https://t.co/ncpWg3bTM8 https://t.co/3z9QlnfU0x
#PulseShooting victim Shane Evan Tomlinson had band performance just hours before he died https://t.co/V2FzgWVDL1 https://t.co/04nrIfjBr8
#PulseShooting victim Miguel Angel Honorato was Apopka father of 3 https://t.co/pL3ODPKbRl https://t.co/CWGl3RWl7s
#PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was a soft-spoken teen excited for the journey ahead https://t.co/CGfustjw4R https://t.co/0mB4Lw60ok
#PulseShooting victim Amanda Alvear wouldn't want hate spread in her name https://t.co/jlck4GCni6 https://t.co/gGcewMqAT4
#PulseShooting victim Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a mother of of 12 https://t.co/9g6UQvQody https://t.co/8KxnRPduPH
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Sanfeliz was a bank worker from Tampa https://t.co/NmZVLzkNn0 https://t.co/kaNE6htcrm
#PulseShooting victim Simon Carrillo was a good boss who loved to travel https://t.co/TjVwcyYxPS https://t.co/HfBeklS9gJ
Shooting victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez: 'Whatever you needed, you could count on him' https://t.co/AzS8r3WAgm https://t.co/mcTW41S1Pp
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Leinonen was a gay rights activist https://t.co/C9pcRIBWPt https://t.co/uRM6d1zWGM
#PulseShooting victim Jonathan Camuy: Great employee of @LaVozKids on @telemundo https://t.co/5yiEe8CplH https://t.co/xx5Gg5ekBm
Soft-spoken teen #PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was excited for the journey ahead https://t.co/YBi6yenkPP https://t.co/JwckpTI6Yq
#PulseShooting victim Gilberto Silva was "light, life" of family https://t.co/yhWMunChQ4 https://t.co/nrw6SqEJFV
#PulseShooting victim Oscar Aracena returned from vacation a day before he died https://t.co/V2nomox0ax https://t.co/XWQc98bCMg
#PulseShooting victim Tevin Eugene Crosby was a hardworking business owner https://t.co/D9qYDR0Y6z https://t.co/40nqriye7J
Leroy Valentin Fernandez was a natural performer. His zeal for life spilled offstage and f… https://t.co/KBjpemnGZZ https://t.co/IsN5w1DHJz
The last image friends have of Omar Capo shows the 20-year-old doing what he loves: Dancin… https://t.co/BiW5QRJLnY https://t.co/DvVjDt1tUS
Shane Evan Tomlinson sang with his band Frequency Saturday night at Blue Martini nightclub… https://t.co/m1Q0oQGKRG https://t.co/wSQnGsiT7G
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 "He was the type of guy who goes along with anybody." https://t.co/zpe4iKKR74
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, worked at a blood donation center and "loved to dance salsa" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/wRhlZrIrPC
#PulseShooting victim Angel Luis Candelario-Padro was in Orlando to start a new life https://t.co/FkaTvfPMIs https://t.co/DqvGJpGiKB
YOU MATTERED❤@TheTalkSoup: Cory James Connell, 21, #PulseNightclub #Orlando #victims https://t.co/nyEsvomYgx
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, worked at Pulse, her aunt called her murder "senseless" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/pf9vQjWRCB
We won't let you go unheard, Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/nsODtqcACR
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old. Rest in Peace. 🌈❤️ https://t.co/GsIWQRyASa
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, was with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, 22, at the club https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/aq5vjFpLBU
Akyra Murray -- 18 -- Just graduated. Star basketball player (1,000 points in her career). #6of49 #WeSpeakYourName https://t.co/YxPQmYXAtj
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32, "was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better" https://t.co/VyBRWl9l6t https://t.co/wXdWWe9eaq
#RIP Martin Benitez Torres, 33, from Puerto Rico was in Orlando with family. https://t.co/mPS4myjcaz #WeAreOrlando https://t.co/k4DOxGUaS3
R.I.P. Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/B0C4xnZ8Zq
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, had a son and worked at Disney Live! https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/g7fMhsC2ui
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, was the owner of D’Magazine Salon and Spa: https://t.co/jnYLtN81jR https://t.co/zbClVeAGBO
#RIP Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 and Luis Conde, 39, were together 13 years. https://t.co/mPS4myjcaz #WeAreOrlando https://t.co/lONiiHf735
#Remembertheirnames Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan https://t.co/Bjt30oeTJl #OrlandoStrong https://t.co/H0D4GY0e2A
Be thou at peace: @USArmyReserve CPT Antonio Davon Brown, Iraq/Afg vet, killed in #Orlando https://t.co/Zgg9v6TMye https://t.co/DPVtlDUuD6
Rest In Peace handsome, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old #PulseShooting https://t.co/b69fXb2j7L
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In the first six months of 2016, 58 people have died in mass shootings across the United States, with the majority of those casualties occurring during Sunday's massacre. The deadliest year on record for mass shootings was 2012, when 72 people died in total. Data on mass shootings is collected by Mother Jones and visualized by Graphiq below.

Although these are sobering totals, they're still just part of a larger, more disconcerting picture. A Vox article on firearm deaths found that more Americans have died by gunshot since 1968 than have died in all of America's wars combined.

Since the United States was founded, approximately 1.17 million people in total have died in combat. Since 1968, just shy of 1.5 million people in the United States have died from gunshots, according to data from the story. Vox points out that most of these deaths are a result of suicide, followed by homicide and accidents. In 2013, for example, there were 11,208 firearm homicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As in the wake of other mass shooting incidents in the U.S., politicians, pundits and activists used the violence in Orlando as a springboard to talk about gun control. In October 2015, after a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, President Obama connected stricter gun laws with fewer gun deaths. At the time, he said: "We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don't work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens, and criminals will still get their guns, is not borne out by the evidence."

Soon after the Oregon shooting last year, InsideGov examined state-by-state data on gun deaths and gun laws. When connecting the two sets of data into one visualization, a pattern did develop that supported Obama's assertion.

The overall trend may hold true, but important cases do run counter to it.

California, for example, has the highest gun law score and a relatively low number of gun-related deaths. However, many mass shootings in the United States since 1984 have occurred in California, according to a list maintained by the L.A. Times.

Although California is the most populated state in the U.S., the 11 mass shootings that have taken place there since 1984 make it a far-and-away outlier. California's population is almost double that of Florida's, for example. But Sunday's violence in Orlando marks only the second mass shooting that has occurred in the state in the last 26 years. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Florida is among the states with less strict gun laws.

Data shows that gun legislation remains a highly divisive topic in American politics. A Pew Research Center poll from 2012 found that reports of shootings don't change people's views on the subject. The poll looked at three mass shootings — at Virginia Tech in 2007; in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011; and in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012 — and found that public opinion shifted by only a few points from before and after the events.

Fewer than 24 hours after the Orlando shooting, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., renewed calls for firearm legislation, saying Congress has "the power to act, and we must." He also said if his colleagues on Capitol Hill don't take the opportunity to do anything, Congress would be "complicit in the next killing."

A 2015 survey by Pew indicates many Democrats agree with Durbin's calls for increased gun control. As the visualization shows, 70 percent of Democrats support a ban on assault-style weapons. Among Republicans, 48 percent support such a proposal. Democrats also overwhelmingly support a federal database to track gun sales, by a margin of 30 percent.

Republicans and Democrats find closer agreement on background checks and laws that would prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. Although Americans have found common ground here, similar proposals did not pass Congress in April 2013, the last time a package of gun laws went before Congress. During that legislative fight, Obama and gun control supporters advocated for more background checks and a ban on some semi-automatic weapons.

News outlets are reporting that Mateen, the suspect in the shooting, legally purchased two guns the week before the violence. That detail led Obama and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to talk about the availability of such weapons.

"The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle," Obama said during his remarks from the White House on Sunday afternoon. "This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Despite the calls for stricter gun laws, public opinion surveys and previous legislative battles indicate this is an incredibly complex and nuanced topic for the United States, and show why it has been so difficult to find consensus on the issue.

Research More About Guns in the U.S.


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