‘We Must Drive Out Hate’: POTUS Commemorates Pulse Nightclub Shooting
President Joe Biden commemorated the fifth anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, pledging to designate Pulse as a national memorial and to take action on gun control.
On June 12, 2016, the assailant entered the venue during a Pride month celebration and opened fire into the crowded dancefloor and bar areas killing 49 people and shattering the belief that bars, clubs, and speakeasies are secure spaces detached from a frequently cruel outside world.
For decades, they have served as respites, places of employment, and sanctuaries for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning individuals to congregate, explore, express themselves, and work. Countless activists, artists, designers, musicians, and politicians found themselves – and were likewise discovered – while reveling in the protective cocoon of nightlife merriment.
Thus, what happened at Pulse was far more than just a solitary act of savagery – it was a precision-guided missile into the souls of millions of people for whom nightlife has provided a home and an unconditional family.
Biden and then-President Barack Obama visited the site following the rampage and promised the victims’ families and the nation that those who lost their lives will not have died in vain.
“Five years ago today in Orlando in the middle of Pride Month, our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQ+ community in American history, and at the time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman. Within minutes, the Pulse nightclub that had long been a place of acceptance and joy turned into a place of unspeakable pain and loss. Forty-nine people were there celebrating Latin night were murdered, even more injured, and countless others scarred forever – the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young, Black, Asian and Latino – our fellow Americans,” Biden said in a statement that was released by the White House.
“In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground,” Biden continued.
He called upon Congress to close gun sale loopholes as well as ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that. It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability,” said the president.
He also urged the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth. And the Senate must swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation that will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under law,” Biden said.
“In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago, let us continue the work to be a nation at our best – one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American,” the statement concluded.