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A vigil to commemorate victims of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Another mass shooting – what the experts say

It happened again.

This time a gunman chose Orlando, a city generally associated with families having fun, to open fire on a crowd of people out dancing.

Omar Mateen, 29, a U.S. native, killed 49 people and injured another 53 at the Pulse nightclub. He was killed by authorities at the scene.

In some ways, this attack was unique. It was the largest mass shooting in U.S. history in terms of lives lost. The fact that it took place in a gay dance club has unsettled the LGBTQ community.

But the Orlando shooting is also one in a too long line of mass shootings – ones we have examined from many angles at The Conversation. Here are nine stories from our archive that offer a lens on the many aspects of the Florida shooting.

  1. The attack had both elements of a hate crime and a terrorist attack. Mateen told a 911 operator that he swore allegiance to the Islamic State group, but it is unclear how deep this connection went. The FBI twice interviewed Mateen and decided he was not a threat.

    U.S. Naval War College professor Peter Dombrowski considers the vulnerability of the home front in the fight against IS:

    it will be incredibly difficult to protect citizens from terror, the ultimate weapon of the weak. As long as lone wolves or small dedicated cells are willing to die in the name of their beliefs, they will be hard to find and difficult to deter.

  2. Sandro Galea, the dean of public health at Boston University, outlines one reason we don’t know more about how to deter gun violence: a lack of data due to the fact the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control have avoided studying the issue for 20 years. Galea explains the elements needed to turn the situation around.

  3. Kristin Goss of Duke University pushes back against conventional wisdom that politicians are “standing by while people die” by examining gun law reforms being made at the state level. Over a 10-year period, Goss finds that:

    40 states enacted more than 80 bills … at the intersection of mental health and firearms. The legislative record gives lie to the standard narrative about gun politics.

  4. Sarah Lyons-Padilla of Stanford and Michelle Gelfand of the University of Maryland write that “many Western policies that aim to prevent terrorism may actually be causing it” by fostering a feeling of “cultural homelessness” in Muslims living in Europe and the U.S. They offer some solutions for stemming radicalization.

  5. Other “advanced nations” make it far harder for killers to get their hands on a Glock semiautomatic handgun or any other kind of firearm, points out Stanford University’s John Donohue in a piece that compares U.S. gun laws with nations around the world.

  6. Edward Dunbar of UCLA wrote for us about hate crimes after the Charleston shooting nearly a year ago. His piece describes Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, who may share characteristics or “signifiers of bias” with Mateen. Dunbar describes Roof as a:

    “lone wolf” offender who acts out his violence as a manifestation of a belief system that is by turns idiosyncratic, obsessional, malevolent and at odds with prevailing current cultural norms.

  7. Frederic Lemieux, a criminologist looks to recent research to correct common misconceptions about mass shootings.

  8. Frank McAndrew of Knox College asks “Why is there always a man behind these shootings? And why is it almost always a young man?” He looks to evolutionary psychology for clues.

  9. Mass shootings create stress in the culture at large, and can have negative impacts on children’s health. Two researchers from Case Western Reserve offer advice to parents on helping kids cope.

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