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What we know one week after the Orlando massacre

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    Today in Orlando, at churches and memorial services, a city marked one week since a self-radicalized ISIS sympathizer named Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people with a semiautomatic rifle at a gay nightclub.

    Tomorrow in Washington, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on gun control measures intended to lessen the odds of such a massacre happening again. Democrats propose to expand background checks to cover purchases at gun shows and ban gun sales to anyone on a government terrorist watch list.

    Republicans propose the FBI be alerted when someone on a watch list buys a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, and letting the government delay a gun sale to someone on a watch list for three days while seeking a court order to stop it.

    Today, the National Rifle Association said it supports only the Republican bill with that due process provision.

    CHRIS COX, Executive Director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action: This notion that more gun control is going to prevent some jihadist who thinks that he's going to obtain martyrdom by murdering innocent people really gets away from the serious nature of the problem that we're facing.


    Attorney General Loretta Lynch said today the ability to block a gun sale is an important tool, but three days may not be enough time to produce the evidence.

  • LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. Attorney General:

    What we think is more appropriate is the one that gives us the most flexibility, the ability to stop that sale at the beginning and the ability, again, if it's challenged, to protect sensitive and classified information.


    Today at 2:00 a.m., the time last week's rampage at the Pulse nightclub began, an LGBT club down the street held a moment of silence for the victims. Eighteen of 53 people who survived gunshot wounds remain hospitalized.

    Joining me now from Orlando for more on the investigation and mood of the city is Orlando Sentinel reporter Paul Brinkmann.

    Paul, one of the things that your paper has done has — is to put together this timeline of exactly what happened in those three hours, according to all of the witnesses, all the survivors that were in there.

    One of the questions that people often have is, what took the police so long? Why did it take them three hours? But what you point out is that they were there relatively quickly.

  • PAUL BRINKMANN, The Orlando Sentinel:


    There was actually an Orlando police officer on the scene as an off-duty security guard. And he exchanged gunfire pretty quickly with the shooter. But he realized he was outgunned, and he had to retreat and call for backup.

    Two other officers arrived. And then they had — experienced pretty much the same thing, and the shooter retreated into the back of the bar. So, we were working on that for a period of days before we posted that, because, obviously, you know, it took a little while to piece it all together.


    This is also now a weekend where we start to see the beginning or the continuation of funerals of the victims.



    You know, right away, one of our first tasks in the newsroom was to — to cover every victim, find out who they were. And then we have kept up with that database, with — when vigils are held for them, when their funerals are — they are happening now, several every day.


    Paul, sadly, this is not the first time one of these events have occurred. And now there is almost an infrastructure of support that exists from people who have survived other mass shootings.

    Who are those people, and what are they planning on to help Orlando?


    It's not a formal group. They don't even have a formal name.

    But it is a network of family members of victims of other mass shootings. But they're — they try to stay in touch with each other and provide whatever support they can. They are scheduled to fly here. Actually, tonight, some of them will be arriving. And then they will be here for two days.

    And they're — they're looking for opportunities to connect with victims and their families. And they are going to be working with Equality Florida and some of the other LGBT organizations here.

    One of their causes that they're most passionate about is the fund-raising, because many of them have actually seen millions of dollars raised in some of these other shootings, where victims and their families who are affected by them are still struggling to pay their bills and haven't gotten any money.

    You know, there are some things that they — they can say. You know, watch out for fractured fund-raising. Watch out for groups that are trying to raise money for other groups.

    The problem is that the need for victims and their families is urgent in many cases. There are people who, they're not able to pay their rent. They're not able to go to work. And they need help.


    All right, Paul Brinkmann of The Orlando Sentinel, thanks so much.


    Thank you.

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