Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has released a statement about Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The shooting left 50 dead, including the gunman, who pledged allegiance with ISIS.
In his statement, Beyer said “we must make progress on gun safety” while also remaining “committed to the long term fight against Islamic extremism.”
Our hearts are broken. Forty-nine Americans, in the primes of their lives, murdered in the name of an evil ideology, targeted for their sexual orientation. I don’t want to believe the death toll. As with so many tragedies in our nation’s and the world’s history, we cannot fathom the cruelty and raw evil of man’s inhumanity to man.
But it seems essential that we figure out how to stop these slaughters.
Number one, we must make progress on gun safety. When the Founding Fathers wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, the right for a “well-regulated militia to keep and bear arms” certainly did not anticipate military grade automatic weapons capable of killing huddled school children and dancing young people by the dozens in seconds. Banning assault weapons must be a meaningful first step.
Number two, we must be committed to the long term fight against Islamic extremism. Yes, we have our own share of psychopathic, sociopathic young men who kill for ideology or joy. But the ISIS and al-Qaeda inspired missions to kill infidels and to proclaim an Islamic caliphate have created an ideological terror center for the most unbalanced people within a massive, historic, peaceful religion. While respecting the millions of Muslims who live, work, and build communities with us, contributing to our American society and culture – still, we must be relentless in detecting, disrupting, and destroying the extremist cells and their acolytes, here and abroad.
Number three, we must recognize that homophobia cannot be contained. Hatred breeds hatred. We are horrified that one man targeted LGBT victims at two a.m. on an Orlando Sunday morning. But we are not blameless, when we tell government contractors it is okay to discriminate against someone because they are gay or lesbian – or tell transgender school children that we will not respect their gender identity.
Our sincere, sustained message of inclusion will create a powerful wall against LGBT hate.
We live in an imperfect world. But let’s do what we can – ban assault weapons, destroy ISIS, and celebrate our LGBT friends and family. Perhaps this is how we best honor the fallen of Orlando.