Far too often do we hear news of mass shootings in the U.S.; and far too often do we feel helpless in the face of them. Gunfire broke out yet again in the early morning of Sunday, June 12 at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where approximately 20 were killed, including the gunman, and over 40 injured. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacted to the Orlando shooting via Twitter at approximately 9 a.m. ET, when she expressed a simple sentiment that's undoubtedly relatable to those watching the news unfold. "Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act," she wrote.
Update: Orlando’s mayor has updated the death toll to 50 deceased and more than 50 people in hospital.
Devastation: That's precisely what's unraveling in the wake of of the PULSE shooting. "Severe and overwhelming shock or grief" as we learn more and more about the "great destruction" that's occurred. It can be alarmingly easy to become desensitized to the severity of mass shootings given their sheer frequency in America. After all, there were 362 mass shootings ("mass shooting" defined as a shooting in which four or more people are killed or injured) across the nation in 2015 alone — nearly one shooting for every day of the year. And there are few better words to describe such a phenomenon, and such slow progress in eradicating said phenomenon from the cultural dialogue, than devastating — the same term Clinton applied to the specific tragedy at PULSE.
While it has yet to be confirmed whether or not the shooting, which occurred at a gay nightclub, was a hate crime motivated by sexual prejudice or otherwise, the Orange County sheriff has said in a statement, "This is an incident, as I see it, that we can definitely classify as a domestic terrorism incident." Terrorism is, by definition, "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims." What those aims are is what has yet to be revealed, but the political implications of the horrific tragedy have already begun unfolding.
In an official statement released on Sunday afternoon, Clinton wrote:
"This was [...] an act of hate. The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly, and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.
Finally, we need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets."
All over social media, the hashtag #GunControlNow is trending alongside #PrayForOrlando. Conversations are bursting regarding still-prevalent and widespread homophobia and LGBTQ rights overall. In the words of Clinton, there is no denying that everything that has transpired is "devastating." But as well as sending our thoughts and prayers to the victims and the many affected by the shooting, we can utilize our voices to keep talking. There is no reason 2015 should have seen over 300 mass shootings in America alone. And there is no reason 2016 should follow suit.