Understanding the Orlando Shooting and Moving Forward

A gunman killed 49 people and injured 50 others in a shooting early Sunday morning. What you need to know about gun laws in the United States and how we can move forward from such a tragedy.

Omar Mateen, 29, opened gunfire inside a gay club in Orlando, Florida early Sunday at around 2 a.m. 49 people are dead and 50 are recovering from injuries.

About 20 minutes before the killings, Mateen called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. So far, investigators are saying Mateen was “self-radicalized”, saying he had no connection to terrorist organizations.

The FBI investigated Mateen three times before when he made threats to co-workers. Even though he was investigated by the FBI for possible terrorist ties, he was still able to legally purchase guns.

Mateen was born in New York City to Afghani immigrant parents. He was killed by police during the shootout. While investigators work to put together the pieces as to why Mateen decided to attack the night club, many are left mourning those lost and left asking “why”.

We’ll take a look at the history of U.S. gun laws, how they compare to other countries, and how we can move forward from such a tragedy.

Understanding Guns in the United States 

One major “why” people are asking is why was Mateen able to legally purchase guns?

Honestly, there is a long history about guns in the United States. The first 10 amendments of the U.S. constitution are called the “Bill of Rights”, meaning the rights guaranteed to Americans. “The right to bear arms”, which is interpreted as the right for Americans to own guns, is the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution. To learn more about why this was included in the U.S. Constitution you can read our previous article by clicking here.

We found this video helpful in explaining how gun laws in the U.S. differ from gun laws in different countries around the world:

Moving Forward 

With U.S. Presidential election coming this fall, candidates were quick to use this tragedy for their political agenda. Particularly, Republican nominee Donald Trump emphasized if elected, he would ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States. While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said more needs to be done to ban citizens from purchasing assault rifles.

Carrie Circosta, ISV Magazine Editor in Chief responds:

After traveling throughout several countries in the Middle East this past October, when I returned home to the United States I was asked so many times if I felt safe during my travels.

I would respond with the following:

“Funny you ask because while speaking with several students and their families in the Middle East, they asked me the same thing about being in the United States. Is it safe? Everyone carries guns.”

I usually don’t get a response, just staring.

I don’t blame them for staring. Even the first time I was asked that question I was caught off guard. This shows me as a country we’ve become so desensitized to the gun violence. When an incident happens we are all upset, but once the hashtag gets old we move on until the next incident.

But they also stare because the only thing most Americans see is how “radical” Muslims are. When anything bad happens in the U.S. or abroad and the person just happens to be Muslim, that is all we hear. If some horrible act was done by a Caucasian or Christian, his/her religion is never taken into account. We have been trained to fear Muslims.

There are approximately 1.6 BILLION Muslims in the world. As you can see from the chart below, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS don’t even come close in making a dent in the total number of Muslims.


It’s beyond disappointing Donald Trump would use such a tragic incident to push his racist, bigoted agenda of banning Muslims to the U.S. A statement that is against everything the country stands for.

My heart is so heavy for those lost in such a heinous attack. Just recently the LGBTQ community had a huge victory when the Supreme Court said gay marriage is legal, but such an attack is a reminder of how the LGBTQ community suffers just like those who practice Islam. They are misunderstood, seen as malicious, and thus feared.

I am amazed by the accomplishments we have as humans and just as equally as amazed as how we treat each other so badly. 

It should be a fundamental right that everyone has a place to live, work, and learn where they feel safe. All I ask is that even though you may not agree with someone’s beliefs, sexual orientation, religion, way of life, whatever that it may be, we must be examples of how we can move forward without having to resort to violence. One should be seen for his/her actions and positive contributions to society. 

As President Obama stated, “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear.”

Print Friendly