In Orlando the air hangs heavy and wet. Police lights throb a steady rhythm. Every now and then, a state trooper moves a few road cones or backs up his car so an FBI command truck or a few forensic investigators can slip inside the cordon. It will be a long, hot night.

It's the routine for mass shootings that galls the most. Every part of it: The soft target, the lonely shooter, his cold ruthlessness and his guns.

"What did he have?" An assault rifle and a pistol. Well, there's a surprise.

Cue the local mayor saying something like, "You never think this could ever happen anywhere like Orlando." Except that's what the last mayor said. And the mayor before him.


Cue the vigils. Cue President Barack Obama looking exasperated. Cue a spike in gun sales in the next few days. Cue statements from the dozens of politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association, offering "thoughts and prayers" to those affected by the shooting.

Newsflash, guys! Thoughts and prayers don't stop bullets. Neither do flags at half-mast. Neither, for that matter, does the President.

Gun violence in America is one of the great failings of Obama's eight years in office.

We can expect various legal arguments as to the second amendment and the definition of an "armed militia". Doesn't anyone just think that maybe we should scrap the amendment all together?

Cue Twitter outrage and Facebook essays on gun culture in America. Cue foreign correspondents lamenting the appalling routine.

Will Orlando be remembered as the tipping-point massacre? Nah.

If a definition of insanity is the repetition of an act with the expectation that something will change, we shouldn't hold out for much.

It's Groundhog Day in America. See you next time, I guess.

• Jack Tame, TVNZ's US correspondent, hosts Newstalk ZB's Saturday morning show