The numbers are staggering – 50 people are dead and another 53 are wounded, and many are in critical condition after a terrorist opened fire in the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida.
Terrorism on American soil is not new, but it is still none the less shocking when it happens. Many people have heard all day about how the Orlando terror attack ranks as the worst mass shooting in American history. While that is a sobering statistic, some more perspective could be useful for individuals to understand the severity of the Orlando terror attack.
For one, this is the worst act of terror committed on American soil since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Those attacks, which saw airliners flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a field southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left nearly 3,000 Americans dead. It was the single deadliest attack on the United States since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1945.
In terms of domestic terrorism, the Orlando terror attack ranks as the deadliest terrorist attack by an American citizen since the April 1995 truck bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, an unassuming target full of federal workers and children at a daycare. That attack saw 168 people killed and hundreds more injured.
More recent terrorism includes the attack on San Bernardino, California, by Syed Farook, an attack similar to the Orlando terror attack. Farook, along with his wife, opened fire at an office party and left 14 dead and another 21 injured, the Los Angeles Times reported, ranking it as the fifth worst mass shooting in American history – dropping one spot Sunday after the attack in Orlando.
Many people remember the attack on a movie theater in Colorado a few years ago that left more than 50 wounded, but in terms of deaths, only 12 perished.
And for anyone who thinks this is a recent phenomena, mass shootings in America have a long history. The Times also reported that back in Oklahoma City, a shooting at a suburban post office in 1986 left many dead in what is still one of the nation’s worst mass shootings on record. The Edmond Post Office shooting left 14 dead and six wounded, ranking just below the San Bernardino attack on the Times’ list of deadliest mass shootings in American history.
Just months ago, the city of Paris saw its largest number of casualties since World War II when ISIS terrorists opened fire on a concert hall, cafes, and set off suicide bombings outside a soccer match. In all, the BBC reports that 130 died and several hundred more were injured, putting those attacks on the same scale of the single truck bomb that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building.
In July 2005, terrorists in London committed suicide bombings and killed 52 people, injuring several hundred more, the BBC reported. Those bombs went off on underground subway cars and on a double-decker bus. While the total number of killed outranked the Orlando attack by two (at least for now), it was again the largest mass casualty event to strike the United Kingdom since World War II, a distinction the Londoners and Parisians share a decade apart and by a set of Islamic terrorists.
For anyone who hears mass shooting, the above perspective should shed light on just what this shooting really means. The Orlando terror attack ranks as one of the western world’s deadliest terrorist attacks in recent history, making two major strikes by ISIS-inspired terrorists in the United States this year and three of the western world’s largest terrorist attacks if you include September 11.
For anyone wanting to understand the significance of the Orlando terror attack, it cannot be overstated. America will not be the same and everything from your evenings out with friends to the 2016 presidential race will be impacted.