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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Mass Shootings: An Epidemic That Must Be Stopped

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Fatal shootings in Orlando this weekend have not only renewed concerns about venue safety for entertainers and patrons, but across America – in our schools, workplace and more.

Early Sunday, a gunman opened fire at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, leaving 50 people dead and over 50 others in critical condition before he was killed in a shootout with a SWAT officers. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely climb. It is the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history. According to reports, approximately 300 people were in the club at the time of the shooting. Details about its security measures that night are unknown.

Law enforcement authorities said the shooter made a 911 call from the club in which he professed allegiance to the Islamic State, but have not said whether the man was directed by the Islamic State or simply acted in sympathy with the extremist group. His father suggested a motive may have been anti-gay hatred, while the shooter’s ex-wife said he was mentally ill — specifically, bipolar. FBI officials said they had investigated the shooter in 2013 and 2014 on suspicion of terrorist connections, but could not make a case against him.

The massacre was less than two days after the fatal shooting of 22-year-old singer and former The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie, who was killed during a meet-and-greet after her concert at Orlando’s Plaza Liver Theater. The gunman later killed himself after being tackled by the singer’s brother. Roughly 300 people had attended the event.

Mass shootings in America have become too frequent in recent years. Mother Jones has tracked and mapped shooting sprees since 1982. The magazine concluded there have been 80 mass shootings (by definition is 3 or more people starting in 2013) through February of this year, with at least half occurring since 2007. The majority of the mass killings were carried out by a lone shooter, in a public place. Most shooters were mentally troubled, many displaying signs of mental health problems some time before setting out to kill. The Mother Jones staff also found that in most instances, the killers had obtained their weapons legally.

The events leading up to a shooting spree, may not always be the same – it may be the result of a mental issue, terrorist attack, or even the need for fame, but what follows never changes – the shock, the horror, prayers, the question of firearm safety, and a call for action. And yet, for all the discussion of what can be done to prevent future tragedies, little has changed.

Children have died in mass shootings (Sandy Hook Elementary School). College students preparing to make their mark of life have died (Virginia Polytechnic). Mothers and fathers have been murdered (Colorado theatre and Washington Naval shipyard). Can we really afford to wait any longer? It is time we take a serious look at this epidemic of violence in America, and begin to implement real solutions. If we continued to let things go unchanged, it will only be time before we read about the next mass tragedy.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.