The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was founded by the League of Women Voters of Florida in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting. The group was up and running, with more than 60 partner organizations, within days of the tragedy. Only 8 days after the shooting, we were calling on Florida State leaders to ban all semiautomatic assault weapons.
About the Pulse Massacre
Starting at around 2:00 am on Sunday, June 12, 2016, the deadliest mass shooting in US history occurred at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. As a result of the attack, 49 people died and 53 were injured. In comparison, the previous most deadly mass shooting in the US had taken place at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16, 2007; then, 32 people were killed and 17 were injured.
Pulse, an LGBT nightclub, was wrapping up its weekly Latin Night, which it hosted every Saturday. The majority of patrons at the time of the massacre were LGBT and Hispanic, which made this not only a terrorist attack, but also a hate crime against two minority groups as well.
In addition to being the deadliest mass shooting, it was also the deadliest attack against LGBT people in US history and the deadliest terror attack since 9/11.
The shooter had twice been investigated for ties to terrorists in the past, he’d been cleared by the FBI. Following its investigation of the Pulse shooting, the CIA determined that Mateen had no direct connection to ISIL.
The Pulse tragedy unfolded over 3 hours. The mass shooting and hostage situation brought in about 100 police officers from the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, as well as about 80 fire and emergency medical services personnel. Ultimately, the active situation ended when Mateen was shot dead by police (he was the fiftieth death in the attack).
For a more detailed accounting of the entire tragedy, see this story by NPR.
Semiautomatic Guns Used in the Attack
Mateen used two guns in his attack at the Pulse nightclub: a SIG Sauer MCX semiautomatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 semiautomatic pistol. The former was the primary weapon used. Semiautomatic assault weapons like this one are self-loading firearms with high-capacity feeding devices that facilitate rapid firing designed for efficient military-style shooting and killing. They are most certainly not weapons made for hunting game or self defense.
Semiautomatic assault weapons are the firearms of choice in mass shootings because they maximize casualties and minimize the time and effort required. They were designed for military—not civilian—use. Because they are entirely unnecessary for any “legitimate” purpose of gun ownership, because of the immense danger they pose, and because they are so often the guns used in mass shootings, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is determined to see legislation passed in Florida that fully bans all semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity feeding devices.