On Sunday, June 12th 2016, the worst mass shooting on American soil took place. Omar Siddiqui Mateen, a 29-year-old man, arrived at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida armed with an AR-15 and a handgun. The mass shooting that ensued left 50 dead and 53 more wounded, making it the largest death count for a single mass shooting in American history. People are outraged and distraught to see this kind of violence inflicted. Unfortunately, one of the questions that can be asked in this situation is… was this mass shooting preventable?
While the extent to which Mateen was involved with Radical Islamic groups hasn’t been fully revealed, Mateen did declare his allegiance to the Islamic State before the shooting. That being said, not every mass shooter is a terrorist. In fact, of the mass shootings that take place on US soil, many of them don’t have anything to do with the Islamic State at all. While the motives behind mass shootings tend to differ from shooter to shooter, there are some distinctive qualities most potential mass shooters will have.
In the particular case of Mateen, he showed quite a few of these signs and a few people were even scared of him. His co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, even reported Mateen’s aggressive behavior and homophobia to his supervisors at their job. Gilroy eventually left the job, after his supervisors took no action. He stated, “The company wouldn’t do anything. This guy was unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people.” Gilroy did the right thing by saying something, but despite his best efforts Mateen was still able to purchase semi-automatic weapons (even though he had once been under investigation by the FBI) and go on to execute the largest mass shooting that America has seen.
Being able to identify if someone is exhibiting these qualities and may be a danger to society could save the lives of many and stop the next mass shooting before it even happens.