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06-12-2016

NPR’s early morning headline reads: “Mass Shooting at Orlando Nightclub

50 people dead. At least 53 people injured. Hundreds held hostage for hours before being rescued. This is the deadliest mass shooting in US history to date.

Yes, there have always been crazy people. And, yes, there have always been homicidal crazy people.

But, we live in a time where our gun laws are far too flimsy; where those wishing to own a gun are protected over those wishing protection from gun violence.
This terrorist happened to have “a firearm license and he received a security officer license in both 2011 and 2013”.

We live in a country were we have legal access to extreme weaponry; assault weapons only ever intended for hunting people (inflict optimal damage in minimal time).
More than 80% of guns in mass shootings have been legally obtained.  Gun violence has escalated to record highs, and reports have become a staple of the nightly news. Some mass shootings are scantily reported, underreported, and dismissed. This terrorist chose an AR-15 type assault rifle, and had plenty of rounds on hand.

This morning’s Twittersphere is flooded with comments on how this is the same type of weapon used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which resulted in the deaths of 26 people. There is currently no governmental data base.

Ours is now a country where our hate speech, proffered by those elevated to positions of authority, is not only epidemic, it’s acceptable. 

So many of our journalists (those on the front lines, reporting and even promoting the bigoted vitriol) fail to practice responsible journalism and challenge this. Public discourse must change.

Journalists must hold themselves to a higher standard: investigating, researching, delving, probing, challenging, and then reporting; driven by journalistic ethics rather than dangerously parroting hateful opinions designed to increase ratings.

I think things can only improve once lawmakers (and other officials) understand that empty comments and inflammatory speech will be challenged by brave, strong investigative reporters.  Until then, we’re left with the painful fruit of their (lack of) labor.