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A runner wearing a gay pride rainbow flag pauses in front of the Pulse nightclub during the CommUNITYRainbowRun 4.9K road race on June 10, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The race is one of many events across central Florida commemorating the one-year anniversary of the June 12, 2016, massacre at the club that left 49 people dead. (Joe Burbank / AP)

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Joe Henderson: Three years after Pulse massacre, nothing has changed

Floridians keep dying from bullet holes but lawmakers keep pushing to expand places where guns are allowed.

The third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre brought remembrance, proclamations, and acknowledgments by the state that something horrific happened that night in Orlando.

Well, OK. The people of Florida and their leaders always should remember the evil that on June 12, 2016. Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to fly at half-staff throughout the state.

But simply remembering the murders of 49 human beings, many who were part of the LGBTQ community, is not enough.

It will never be enough until Florida decides it’s not a good idea to have weapons of mass murder that are so easy to obtain. And that’s the problem.

After leaders offered their thoughts and prayers following Pulse, did anything change?

High-powered weapons like the one used in the Pulse rampage are still readily available. The National Rifle Association still gets what it wants from its serfs in the Legislature. The NRA aggressively fights even tepid restrictions to Florida’s gun laws.

When horror happens as we saw in Orlando, Second Amendment advocates sometimes change the narrative to confuse the issue.

After the Pulse massacre, the focus shifted from gun control to the necessity that we aggressively fight terrorism. The murderer, who shall not be named, was American-born. He was a terrorist for sure. He had pledged allegiance to ISIS and hated gays, but there was no evidence ISIS directed the attack.

Yes, there was a lot of terror that night. But instead of being directed from a foreign shore, it happened because an unhinged bigot had a gun — actually, two of them.

A couple of weeks before his deadly mission, he legally bought a Sig Sauer semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm Glock handgun. He wanted to inflict carnage, and he succeeded. Besides the 49 people who died, 53 others suffered injuries.

But I ask again, what has changed?

People keep dying in Florida from bullet holes in their bodies. Lawmakers respond by introducing more guns into more public places.

On Valentine’s Day in 2018, 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The Legislature’s answer is a law that allows some teachers to carry guns in their classrooms.

It won’t stop there. Lawmakers will keep pushing to allow guns in more places until Florida becomes an oversized OK Corral.

Nothing changes.

The NRA cheered when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that makes it harder for citizens to get proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told her followers, “These changes are critically important to gun owners, as anti-gunners repeatedly try to subvert the Constitution and Second Amendment rights by imposing gun bans and gun control through the ballot petition process.”

There you have it. It’s all about the guns.

So, on this day, we remember the victims of the Pulse massacre.

Maybe we think about the wounded who still struggle physically and emotionally.

But the flags go back up to full staff on the morning after, and the question remains the same.

What has changed?

As always, the answer is the same.

Nothing has changed.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Dan

    June 12, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    You always leave out the overwhelming problem in the room to propagandize your Socialist Tyrannical Agenda. Both of those Mass Killers were emotionally unstable Democrats from extremely Liberal families in Blue Cities. Being emotionally unstable, they could not accept the Rights of others are just as important as their own juvenile desires like most extremists. Just after the Pulse Nightclub Mass Murders, the father was a VIP at an Obama Speech. So, who disrespected the victims and who used them for their own agenda?

  2. Pedro

    June 12, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    There is absolutely no reason for citizens to own these types of weapons!

    • Blue

      June 12, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      Yet Pedro, you are o.k. with criminals, psychopaths, despots and jackboots having them. I tell you what, come take them.

    • gary

      June 13, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      Pedro: You meant there is no good reason for a DEMOCRAT to own any gun…. They are always the shooters! Democrats are loaded with mental issues!

      • Evis

        June 13, 2019 at 11:53 pm

        But Ted Bundy was a Republican.

        • gary

          June 14, 2019 at 12:05 pm

          Evis: And John McCain was a scumbag RINO! What’s your point? That there are a few bad conservatives, but not one good Democrat? I completely agree!

  3. FlaGrown

    June 12, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Fuck off Pedro. Get back to us when you can read and understand the Constitution.

    • gary

      June 14, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Well said FlaGrown

  4. Blue

    June 12, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    These tools of the gun ban lobby seem to always leave out that the homicidal maniac had a Class G security license and worked for a security company which meant he passed a rigorous background check. That said, some agencies dropped the ball on this guy, his wife and family. Criminals and psychopaths don’t care about the law nor the means they use. Case in point, OK City, Boston Marathon, etc. These people want the U.S. to end up like China, Cuba or worse before its over.

  5. Blue

    June 12, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    Joe Henderson, hyperbole much?

    “Floridians keep dying from bullet holes but lawmakers keep pushing to expand places where guns are allowed.”

  6. Dale Arnold

    June 13, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Thoughts and prayers are with you are all lawmakers are allowed to say from their masters! We allow these weapons of war intended to inflict the most damage to be sold. imagine Jesus asking, what did we do to prevent another such Carnage?
    And we feebly reply thoughts and prayers! He won’t be impressed!

    • Andy

      June 13, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      Yeah as we condone the slaughter of unborn millions the left whines about gun control. Pulse forbade guns. Parkland forbade guns. Columbine forbade guns. Maybe someday Democrats will wake up to the fact that the effect of their policies is making people MORE vulnerable to guns. And maybe, just maybe, they can stop assaulting the one constitutional right that forms the backbone of all the others.

      When you factor for suicides, and violent crime in Chicago, Detroit, DC, LA, and Oakland (all of which have been dominated by the policies you advocate, including everything short of an outright ban), America becomes one of the safest countries in terms of ‘gun violence’ despite representing 46% of civilian small arms ownership.

      Moreover, countless millions of innocent children, purposefully dismembered with the State’s blessing hasn’t pricked your conscience. These most innocent, most vulnerable voices have been literally silenced forever. Because, so I’m told, they’re not people. Funny how that works.

      Joe Henderson, if you really despise the power guns give the common man, move to a place that doesn’t afford that freedom. There are plenty of them, and they’ll be happy for you to lick their boot. Our founders wouldn’t be weeping, they’d be arming themselves. And I intend to do the same.

  7. Honk Honkleford

    June 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    So DeSantis was governor in 2016? Or does he have a white nationalist time machine?

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