Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday June 25th 2019


Outtakes—Death Toll Continues

By Rick Outzen

A year ago this week, Stephen Paddock, 64, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor at the Mandalay Bay casino into a crowd of 22,000 people enjoying the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. He killed 58 people and left 851 injured from gunfire and the resulting panic. Later, Paddock was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident was the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

Two months later, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, got out of his SUV and approached the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest and wielding a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle. He killed 26 and injured 20 others. It was the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in modern history, surpassing the shooting in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

On Jan. 23 of this year, Gabriel Ross Parker, 15, walked on the campus of Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky. He opened fire with a 9mm Ruger handgun, killing two teens and injuring 18 others.

On Valentine’s Day, former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others. It is the deadliest shooting at a high school in United States history.

On May 18, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, opened fire in his art class at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas. Eight students and two teachers were fatally shot, and 13 others were wounded.

The following month, Jarrod Ramos used a shotgun to kill five employees of The Capital, a newspaper serving Annapolis, Md. Two others were injured while trying to escape.

On Aug. 26, during a Madden NFL 19 video gaming tournament at a Jacksonville, Fla., bar, David Katz, 24, shot and killed two people and injured another 10 before committing suicide.

The mass shootings have become such a part of American culture that each has a Wikipedia page. And, sadly, little has changed after the shootings. The families of the victims cry out for stricter laws and more thorough background checks. The National Rifle Association shouts out that the government is going to take away their members’ guns and uses incidents to raise more contributions.

Meanwhile, the death toll increases. It’s time for local communities to decide how they will make their streets, schools and public areas safe. The Florida Legislature needs to return control to local governments and let them decide what gun laws should be enacted within their boundaries.

Home rule could be a difference maker.