Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the senseless and appalling attack that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We stand with the family and friends of the victims, and we stand with the community that has been so tragically affected by hate. We don’t yet have all of the details, and many of us across America and throughout the world are still reeling as we attempt to process this tragedy. Recovery for the surviving victims, their family members and friends, the LGBTQ community, and the hospitality industry has not yet begun. It will be a long time before we heal, but we will heal; we are all of us stronger than hate.
News outlets, politicians, law enforcement, and other experts are focusing on what they tend to focus on after a mass shooting tragedy: gun control, mental health, and reporting suspicious activity or threats immediately. Clearly, in light of this attack, the most deadly mass shooting in American history, these are discussions that we need to have. However, individuals motivated by anger, hate and a desire to take as many innocent lives as possible will remain a threat to our freedoms and safety while those important conversations are taking place. The conversation that we in the hospitality industry need to have is about strengthening our security and vigilance.
We have, sadly, had to discuss this topic before. Industry expert and security consultant Robert C. Smith of Nightclub Security Consultants addressed hardening hospitality venues in the aftermath of the attacks that occurred in France, Israel, Iraq, the West Bank, Mali, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and elsewhere last year. More attacks have taken place across the globe since then, and the fact that hospitality venues are often the chosen targets of terrorists can no longer be ignored. These despicable attackers want to instill fear by killing large groups of people. Our businesses, venues intended as social gathering outlets for people of all races, genders, ages, and orientations, must remain safe havens for celebrating our freedoms. We must stand together and let those who seek to harm us know that their hate will never weaken our resolve, will never win.