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After Orlando massacre, US must confront lax gun laws

All day yesterday the names of the dead in the Orlando nightclub massacre were released by the city authorities after their families were informed.

Most of them were young, men and women who had left their homes on Saturday evening to join up with friends for a fun night out or to work a shift at the popular gay venue.

Packed into that darkened building, they were utterly defenceless when Omar Mateen burst in at 2am and opened fire with an assault rifle and a handgun.

By the end, there would be 50 dead and 53 wounded - the deadliest gun attack in recent American history.

This attack represents a nightmare scenario for the US authorities - the lone wolf Islamic State fanatic seeking out a soft target and causing large scale casualties.

Mateen was an American citizen, a security guard with no criminal record who wanted to be a police officer.

However, he had come to the notice of the FBI for making inflammatory remarks in 2013 and again the following year when it was found he had ties to a suicide bomber.

But it appears these incidents did not cause serious concern and in the last week or so Mateen was able to lawfully buy at least two firearms.

Once again the United States must confront the issue of gun control. The right to bear arms means that it is not only the deranged killers behind mass shootings in schools and colleges who can easily get their hands on a gun.

As we saw on Saturday, a home-grown, hate-filled terrorist can go into a shop and buy a military grade weapon capable of carrying out wholesale slaughter within a matter of seconds.

It is a situation that other countries find hard to understand.

When it comes to thwarting terror groups and protecting life, governments need to make it as difficult as possible for the killers to access deadly weaponry.

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