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EXPLANATION: CAP commemorates 2 tragic anniversaries of gun violence in Orlando and Charleston

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Washington, DC – Next week will mark the anniversary of two horrific mass shootings that are prominently and permanently engraved on America’s long, ugly history of hate crime, white supremacy and gun violence. June 12 marks five years since the massacre that cost the lives of 49 people at pulse, a popular meeting place for young LGBTQ people of color in Orlando Florida. June 17th marks the six year mark of the racially motivated murder of nine black parishioners during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

In recognition of these dark chapters in a month otherwise associated with pride and joy, Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs for the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

We pause this week to remember and mourn the lives brutally killed in two of the most terrifying, hateful mass shootings in recent US history: the murder of black believers at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston that year In 2015 by a stranger they welcomed their Bible study and the attack on the LGBTQ Latinx community at Pulse nightclub just a year later. These attacks caused concentric circles of grief, pain and trauma in the victims, their families, survivors, the communities in which they occurred and the communities of individuals who have been the target of hate crimes for centuries. Both attacks were targeted at places believed to be safe havens, and the effects of those events are still being felt.

But while we pause to remember and acknowledge the lives of Pulse and Charleston, we cannot interrupt our ongoing efforts to disrupt ongoing attacks on historically challenged communities and eradicate the violence of white supremacy.

Both massacres were made possible, in part, by the proliferation of dangerous firearms and decades of inaction by lawmakers who have prioritized the rights of the arms industry over the lives of marginalized communities. The need for Congress to fill dangerous loopholes in the country’s gun laws has become even more pressing as 2020 saw a historic surge in gun sales and millions of new guns entering American homes and communities.

Our communities cannot afford to wait for Congress to take meaningful action to combat hate crime, violence by white supremacy, and gun violence. The passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and its incorporation into the NO HATE Act was a step in the right direction. However, there is a need for further action. The LGBTQ community has waited far too long for the Equal Opportunities Act, which would expand protection based on gender identity and sexual orientation for millions of Americans, and strengthen religious freedom and other civil rights protections for millions more. Color communities owe legislative solutions to the scourges of institutionalized racism and violent white supremacy. And all Americans are entitled to sensible reforms like universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and other safeguards against armed violence.

For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Adam Peck g r o. s s e r g o r p n a c i r e m a @ k c E p a.

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Janet Smith