Last night’s mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida is tragic and devastating. We stand with the families and the loved ones of those who lost their lives and with our allies in the LGBTQ movement as they mourn this tragedy. As we learn more over the coming days, the one thing that is already clear is that this latest, appalling mass killing by a lone gunman combines two of our nation’s most intransigent problems: ongoing and virulent prejudice against members of the LGBTQ community, and the proliferation of and ready access to high-powered combat weapons.
It is a particularly tragic irony that this killing occurred as members of the LGBTQ community and allies all over the country are celebrating the right to live with pride and dignity as full citizens in all aspects of life. This senseless attack also occurs as gun violence has injured scores and taken innocent lives at alarming levels in our nation’s cities over the past few weeks. The time has come for all responsible Americans, particularly among our political and faith leadership, to speak out unequivocally and powerfully and to work to end bias and violence against LGBTQ individuals, and in favor of sensible gun restrictions that preserve rights held under the Second Amendment, while also protecting innocent Americans from senseless mass violence.
Our democracy is diminished when ordinary Americans cannot attend school or church, go to work, or engage in leisure activities without the fear of being subjected to random and lethal mass gun violence. We hope that this incident will bring us closer to working together to stamp out bias and to strengthen laws that impose sensible restrictions on access to military-style guns and address the proliferation of illegal guns on our streets.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.