June 14, 2016

Orlando Strong

Last weekend the deadliest mass shooting in United State history happened in the neighborhood I'd been living in until one week prior to the shooting.

I went to the Dunkin Donuts next to Pulse weekly and drove by Pulse itself twice a day on my way to and from my job in Lake Mary. My home was 5 minutes away. Five minutes away from a terrorist attack that killed 49 people.

You never believe this kind of thing can happen in your neighborhood, but it can. It did. Orlando is a growing city. It's previously just been known as the home of theme parks, but in recent years the city has begun to come into its own and grow as a community. I'm heartbroken that this happened in my hometown...the place where I grew up and will always consider home.

There was an impromptu vigil Monday night at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Thousands came out and listened to leaders from the city, LGBTQ community, and Latin community. I wish I had been there to see the unity - the coming together of people after tragedy. Hundreds people went to blood banks on the day of the shooting that they had to be turned away due to a lack of supplies. That is the Orlando I know. It's full of good people, good opportunities, good businesses, and good vibes. A very disturbed young man took the lives of many people that night, but what he didn't take was the city's pride and ability to unite. Orlando is strong.

I often don't voice my political opinions, but the nation needs gun reform. I'm not sure what the answer is. Is it taking away all guns? Possibly not. That could cause things to end up like the illegal drug market - simply done under the table. Ending the sale of semi- and automatic weapons seems like a starting point. No one but soldiers needs those types of guns. A tighter background check and longer waiting period on those wanting to purchase handguns also seems like a fair option. Whatever the solution, something needs to happen. Too many innocent people have died by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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