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: If you're wondering how to support gun control now, you're not alone. Although statistics regarding the frequency of mass shootings vary, reports indicate that gun-related violence in public spaces is on the rise — a fact that is at the forefront of public consciousness this weekend. Over the course of two days, two separate gun-related incidents have made national headlines: The Voice star Christina Grimmie was shot and killed on Friday night after a concert in Orlando, Florida, and during the early hours of Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire inside the gay nightclub Pulse, also located in Orlando. It's still unknown exactly how many were killed, but police say at least 53 were wounded and approximately 50 people have died, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
The incident, which is being treated as domestic terrorism, was documented in photos and videos posted to social media, driving home the shocking, devastating violence of which guns are capable. According to the Washington Post, mass killings in the U.S. are most commonly carried out by people using guns, which are usually purchased legally. Research has shown that areas with looser gun regulations see more gun-related violence, and the opposite is also true: Most studies indicate that stricter gun legislation is correlated with fewer gun-related deaths.
In January, President Obama declared a series of executive orders aimed at reducing such violence, which has proven to be popular across party lines. However, if the number of mass shootings this year are anything to go by, it's still enormously important to support gun control in the ways you can. Let's look at six below.
1. Support Gun Control Campaigns
Whether you're donating to advocacy groups or signing petitions supporting gun control, there are plenty of organizations out there fighting for improved gun control. The most well-known national organization is the Brady Campaign, a bipartisan campaign to prevent gun violence. Named after Jim Brady, Ronald Reagan's press secretary who was wounded during an assassination attempt on the president, it's existed in some form or another for decades and wields significant political clout.
2. Familiarize Yourself With Politicians' Views
No single politician is going to agree with you on every subject, but if supporting gun control is important to you, it's best to be familiar with your representative's views on the subject. Like it or not, they have political power that you may not, so be sure to know who you're voting for.
3. Volunteer With Advocacy Groups
There are dozens of organizations dedicated to supporting gun control around the country — the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for one, or Americans for Responsible Solutions, which was created by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after surviving an assassination attempt. There are plenty of local options as well; if you have time, you may want to contact them for volunteer opportunities.
4. Change Your Profile Picture In Support
If you're looking to support both gun control and the victims of the Pulse shooting in a small way, the Brady Campaign has created a banner reading "#EnoughGunViolence" to layer over your Facebook profile picture. (You can find instructions here.)
5. Question The NRA
It's no secret that the National Rifle Association of America has close ties with gun manufacturers and has been influencing national gun legislation since the 1970s. These days, it's one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country, with massive direct and indirect influence. Fortunately, there are a few organizations aiming to reduce its influence, such as Every Town for Gun Safety.
6. Write To Local Representatives
If nothing else, there's always the option to go old-school: Write to your political representatives emphasizing the need for improved gun control.