On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed by a heavily armed gunman at Pulse, a popular Florida gay bar - the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Please Join us on August 13, 2016 in Washington DC as we rally to #DisarmHate! Click here for more info and how you can be a part of history.
The following is an open letter to concerned citizens everywhere, by Shira Tarantino of The ENOUGH Campaign:
Three and a half years ago, my friends and I gathered in a living room after the horrific attack at local Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first graders and six educators we murdered by a gunman. We were shocked and saddened, but most of all, motivated to make a change for the better.
Today, following the horror of America's worst mass shooting in history, the gun violence prevention movement stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. We share common concerns, such as suicide, domestic violence, and hate crimes. We both support peace and tolerance in our communities. We stand together to condemn hate of all kinds; hate drives people to perform unspeakable acts.
The gay community has an inspiring history of standing up, shouting out, fighting back, and transforming the landscape of America for the better. The Stonewall riots of 1969 laid the framework of what was to become the LGBTQ movement in support of these communities across the globe. Since then, we've found our voices and have stood up to oppression of all kinds.
When University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tortured and killed in 1998, the LGBTQ communities and allies across the country came together to speak out and let it be known that his death was a hate crime. It took eleven long years, but the gay community fought and fought and fought - until Congress finally passed the act that was named after Matthew into law: one which would expand federal hate crimes to include those whose motivation was because the victim is gay.
And the LGBTQ communities stood up for federal recognition of gay marriage. And we fought and fought and fought, until it became law.
Currently, the LGBTQ community fights for the rights and recognition of transgendered people. When we make our voices heard, we promote awareness and acceptance; we make a change for the better. We have a long road ahead of us - but we know from experience that We The People have the power to create change.
But what would have happened if we remained silent?
No community knows better than the gay community that silence=death!
The LGBTQ communities and the gun violence prevention movement share common ground: we want to prevent suicide and domestic violence; we want to eradicate hate crimes; we seek peace and social justice. And while every individual and each group plays a unique part in changing systemic underlying problems, the common denominator in our shared concerns is the accessibility of guns.
Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than 5 times more than in instances where there are no weapons. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.(1)
Households with guns were three times more likely to have homicides and five times more likely to have suicides than homes without guns.(2)
Congress must take action to address gun violence. But right now, on this issue, we have a sitting Congress who does nothing but sit. Congress has remained SILENT on gun violence.
Now it is time, once again, to step forward and reshape Congress. Call your lawmakers NOW at the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell them that we are tired of their inaction. We refuse to be silent. Tell them that you demand safer gun laws, such as background checks for all guns sold in America, a ban on military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition, and that gun trafficking be declared a federal crime.
Tonight we grieve. Tomorrow, we act.
Please Join The ENOUGH Campaign and our friends on August 13, 2016 in Washington DC as we rally to #DisarmHate! It's time to show Congress - and the entire country - that we won't stand for silence. Click here for more info and how you can be a part of history.
(1) J. C. Campbell, D; Webster, J; Koziol-McLain, C. R; et al. 2003. Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study. American Journal of Public Health. 93(7).
(2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2004. (Available at the following Internet website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/default.htm).
The ENOUGH Campaign NEWS
Get the latest news and information here on how to stop gun violence in your community.
Photo above: President Obama speaks in Hartford, CT.
Blossom Hill Photography