The violence that afflicts the United States is relentless, and too often, the latest incident ups the ante in some terrible way. That was the case early Sunday in Orlando, Florida.
The deadliest mass shooting in the nation's history touched three raw nerves in the American psyche. The first of course, is gun violence, and reports are that the apparent killer, Omar Mateen, was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, which is designed to do a great deal of damage quickly. No civilian needs this weapon. Based on studies revealing that more guns means more death and injury, the notion that the patrons of the Pulse nightclub could have returned fire if armed should be rejected as preposterous.
That the Pulse was a gay bar and dance club certainly indicates that hatred of gays at a time when gays are successfully claiming their rights in the nation was a motivation for the attack. That is the shooting's second touchstone, and the third is that the apparent shooter, who was killed in a shoot-out with police, was Muslim.
It is unclear if he was connected with the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, but the mass murders could inflame anti-Muslim sentiment that has already been stoked during this ugly presidential election year.
With a death toll in the vicinity of 50, the Orlando massacre pushes the Virginia Tech rampage of 2007, in which 32 were killed, into second place on the grim list of U.S. mass shootings.
Early Saturday in Orlando, former "The Voice" singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed after a concert by a gunman who then killed himself. Bad and bloody times for Orlando, and, yet again, for the United States.