‘Want real decisions’: Pulse shooting survivors mark grim anniversary

Su 12 giugno 2016, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, 49 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the Pulse LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Ahead of the sixth anniversary of the shooting, survivors decried lawmakers’ failure to pass meaningful federal gun law reform.

“It is incredibly disappointing,” said Ricardo Negron, a voting rights advocate and Pulse survivor. “It is triggering and it is infuriating that we have to continue living like this.”

Patience Murray, an author, entrepreneur and survivor, disse: “We’ve had so many survivors, so many families that have been left behind and they tell their story. And they’re vulnerable, pouring their hearts out to these leaders, and then nothing happens.”

Mass shootings are widely held to be incidents in which four people not including the shooter are hurt or killed. Since Pulse, the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ communities in US history, mass shootings have increased and affected almost every facet of American life. Within the past month, mass shootings have occurred in places including a church, un hospital, un scuola e un grocery store.

America is haunted by gun violence. Nel 2020, more Americans died from gun-related causes in 2020 than any other year on record. Also rising were suicides with a firearm, which make up the majority of gun deaths, and murders involving a gun, accounting for 24,292 e 19,384 deceduti rispettivamente.

For LBGTQ+ communities, gun violence is a persistent issue. While specific data on how gun violence impacts queer and trans demographics is lacking, available research shows that since 2013 more than two-thirds of fatal incidents involving transgender or gender non-conforming people have involved a firearm.

LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, are also more likely to attempt suicide than members of the general population: incidents that are likely to involve a firearm.

For those who survived the Pulse shooting, the failure to address gun violence continues to be traumatic.

“When I see mass shootings, in particolare, and any gun violence, it always hits a point of hurt and sadness,” said Murray. “I’m reminded that we’re still in the same place that we were before, of hoping that we could see a change with policy.”

Negron said each mass shootings is a reminder that such violence can always happen again. Per lui, the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a maggio, dove 19 children and two teachers were killed, stoked fears that such an incident could happen at his nephews’ schools.

“I’m transported to that mindset of this could literally happen in any school now," Egli ha detto.

For Murray, seeing gun violence surge after Pulse with no tenable solutions offered brought up feelings of despondency.

“When you encounter something like being held hostage for three hours and seeing other people around you dying," lei disse, of her own experience, “and then see repeated instances of terror constantly on the news, it takes a certain level of tenacity and resilience to believe that anything that you say, or anything that you do on this world matters.

“It’s hard to believe that when you feel like the conversations you’ve had for the past five going on six years, hasn’t seen any real difference in the gun violence that we’re seeing as a whole.”

Negron and Murray agreed that required reforms include a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of background checks with a “mental health element”, as Murray put it.

“With all the collective trauma that we’ve experienced as a country with Covid and consistent violence on communities, I think that we should really restrict access to powerful weapons of war,” Negron said.

Both also said conservative alternatives to gun control, including arming teachers – a proposal teacher associations have rejected – ignore the cause of American gun violence.

Referring to police in Uvalde, Texas, who failed to enter the classroom during the elementary school shooting, Negron said: “Even they themselves were afraid of the damage those type of weapons can do, and they’re trained police officers. Per me, it’s just as another talking point to deflect from [Republicans’] responsibility as to why this continues to happen.”

The Pulse shooting does not get easier to talk about, Murray and Negron noted, even though they have both taken on advocacy roles. But both said it was important to speak about their experience, noting that groups they joined following Pulse have helped their own healing.

"Per me, and it’s always been important to bring in the perspective of someone who has been directly affected by what happened so that people can understand from [them],” said Negron. “It’s not that it gets easier. Sometimes it just becomes more manageable. But it’s never easy.”

Murray, who will this year speak at a Pulse remembrance event for the first time, disse: “When I see how people respond, like other advocates, and other activists for gun violence, it really just gives me hope. And it inspires me to share my story again.”

Both Negron and Murray said now was the time for politicians to pass meaningful reform.

“This goes beyond political parties and your political beliefs,” said Negron. “And this is really about the safety of everybody, giusto? It’s not just the safety of our kids in school, but it’s literally about the safety of everybody.”

Murray said: "[Suo] time to make a decision and to choose something. We’re no longer just looking for the hoopla. We’re no longer just looking for the headlines of what we think could happen. We actually want to see real decisions being made.”

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