The scourge of mass shootings reaches federal court in two cases.
Families and victims from Orlando and Texas have filed lawsuits against the government.
In the case of the November 5, 2017 Texas church massacre, a couple whose nine relatives were murdered along with 17 others is suing the United States to the tune of $50 million for its “institutional failures” which contributed to the atrocity.
The suit, which was made public Friday, was filed in federal court and charges that the U.S. Air Force was negligent in failing to report gunman Devin Kelley’s criminal record to a nationwide database. Had the information been shared, the suit alleges, Kelley would have been prevented from legally purchasing a firearm.
The filing was on behalf of the parents of Bryan Holcombe, who was shot in the back near the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
In March, President Trump signed the Fix NICS Act, meant to ensure that state and federal agencies report to the national background check system as compelled by existing law.
Family that lost 9 in #SutherlandSprings church shooting sues federal gov't: https://t.co/0pBZjrpIlQ pic.twitter.com/XR5SLkcLuB
— NBC DFW (@NBCDFW) June 8, 2018
As for the June 12, 2016 mass murder of 49 people at Pulse nightclub, a federal lawsuit was submitted Thursday on behalf of over 35 surviving victims, who charge the city of Orlando and its police officers with violating the victims’ constitutional rights.
Plaintiffs claim the police should have been more aggressive against gunman Omar Mateen.
Specifically, the filing asserts, Officer Adam Gruler had “abandoned his post” at a critical time, during which Mateen entered the club, surveyed the scene, retrieved weapons from his car, and returned.
Gruler was honored by the city of Orlando as a hero. He shot at Mateen from two location outside the club. In less than five minutes, Mateen fired over 500 shots inside.
During a press conference Thursday, victim Keinon Carter said the actions of the cops — over 30 of whom are named in the filing — were unacceptable:
“I believe victims of the Pulse shooting deserve better. We deserved better. We deserved to be rescued sooner by law enforcement.”
The suit requests a jury trial and monetary damages.
Pulse nightclub shooting survivors sue city of Orlando, its police #PulseNightclub #Pulse #Orlando >> https://t.co/K4QXtpW4kW pic.twitter.com/rAQDeQn7db
— ABC Action News (@abcactionnews) June 8, 2018
It isn’t surprising that those affected by these tragic events want to see the entities at fault pay. Wrongdoing may have occurred in both of these crimes, for which there is no excuse. If the plaintiffs are able to use mechanisms of jurisprudence to enact change which may prevent similar atrocities, then I hope they succeed in their efforts.
However, if every person affected by crime — even only crime involving multiple victims, as in the case of these two mass murders — lodges a suit against the government, we’re in big trouble. Multiple suits have been filed alleging negligence in the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas massacre, including one on behalf of 450 people. Those suits were against companies. But what happens when victims of crime sue the government? This is unmanageable as the norm, and it’s easy to see why. The Texas couple is suing for $50 million; 22,000 people attended the concert which found itself the target of the Las Vegas shooter’s rage.
Nevertheless, I hope the victims of these crimes — as well as the perpetrators — receive whatever justice is possible.
What do you think? Please let me know in the Comments section below.
Check out my coverage of people trying to solve the problem of mass shootings here and here.
Find my articles about the more recent Santa Fe shooting here and here.
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