Update: In a press conference Monday morning, Orlando police confirmed that 49 people had been killed and 53 injured early Sunday morning at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. After opening fire on the crowd, an individual named Omar Mateen had taken hostages and was ultimately killed in a stand-off with police; Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly before the massacre. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency, and the massacre is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
The victims' names were released by the city of Orlando on its website as their next of kin were informed.
Here are some ways to help the Orlando shooting victims and their loved ones: you can also donate to the victims' fund, as well as express your solidarity with the LGBTQ community by posting a tribute online. You can also attend a vigil near you to honor the victims.
Earlier: On Sunday, a mass shooting and hostage situation at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, left "approximately" 20 people dead and more than 40 injured in the early hours of the morning. Initially founded as a tribute to the owner's late gay brother, Pulse is a popular LGBTQ bar and nightclub in Orlando — and although officials have noted that they're investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism, it's as yet unclear whether the Pulse shooting was a hate crime targeted at the LGBTQ community, or a random act at a popular nightclub. And yet, as Mic editor Kevin O'Keeffe points out, if it had been the former, it may not change a thing.
After all, in spite of gay marriage having been legal in the United States for almost a full year, 2016 alone alone has seen wave after wave of anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender legislation aimed at narrowing the rights of this country's LGBTQ and transgender citizens. Look no further than the infamous bathroom law in North Carolina, the legislation protecting those who discriminate against the LGBTQ community in Mississippi, and the hundreds of other pending laws targeting citizens across the United States. Look no further than the staggering number of transgender people who have been murdered in 2016, not to mention the transgender Americans who have committed suicide.
And just as the country seems unable to stop discriminating against the LGBTQ community once and for all, the lack of reasonable gun control in America continues to be a divisive and troubling issue. Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012 and Obama's failed push for gun control legislation that followed it, the Republican-controlled Congress has proven over and over again that meaningful gun control reform is simply not on the table.
"This country's broken," writes O'Keeffe.
O'Keeffe, like so many Americans, struggles to grapple with the idea that one of the world's most powerful and progressive countries cannot put a stop to two huge issues that constantly ail it: Discrimination against its minority communities; and shootings that could have been prevented by meaningful gun control.
On top of all that, one of the two candidates for the next president of the United States is a man who consistently makes racially charged remarks about minorities, and, like the rest of his party, is firmly against gun control.
"This country's broken" has never felt more potent.