In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, local officials and organizations are asking Congress to help make sure no more lives are lost.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney was joined by fellow elected officials, members of the LGBT community and gun safety advocates on Friday to demand Congress pass much-needed gun safety reforms.
The call on Congress was also joined by speakers remembering the 49 people killed and the 53 injured last weekend when a crazed gunman — armed with a semi-automatic assault weapon and handgun — entered the Pulse gay nightclub and began shooting.
“This country needs to wake up and pass meaningful gun safety reforms like renewing the assault weapons ban and keeping guns out of the hands of people on the terrorist watch list or those convicted of hate crimes,” Maloney said. “The fact that Republicans in Congress have blocked us from even having a vote on these bills is a disgrace. These reforms won’t infringe upon the Second Amendment — hunters don’t need assault rifles — but they will save lives.”
One of the changes that the groups asked Congress to make is the renewal of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. The ban prohibited the use of semiautomatic assault weapons.
The new bill would ban the sale or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines — similar to those used during both the Orlando and Newtown mass shootings.
A second reform is the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that would ensure any individual convicted of a misdemeanor assault against someone based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability cannot purchase a weapon.
Under current law, such individuals can still purchase weapons although those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence cannot.
“We need gun control laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm to all communities especially because of who you are or who you love,” said Bryan J. Ellicott, secretary of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City. “We need to join together as a community of human beings and stop pointing figures and come up with the solution so this stops happening.”
According to the New York Daily News, the Human Rights Campaign — the country's largest gay rights group — announced that it would be joining the call for gun control reforms following the Orlando shooting.
Others reforms called for on Friday include having Congress lift the current ban on public health research, which since the 1990s has prohibited federal research on gun violence.
Under the reform, $10 million would be dedicated yearly for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence and better understand the epidemic, which, according to Maloney, claims 32,000 deaths per year and injures an additional 76,000 people.
The final bill, titled the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, is a proposal aimed to close any gaps or loopholes in the current bill which calls for background checks for most handgun purchases.
The change will require universal background checks for all gun sales and would also help create the Nation Commission on Mass Violence, which will look at mass shootings to figure out that causes behind each and also additional risk factors.
“We need to keep up the pressure on the state but also go back to Congress and demand that our feckless leaders do what we've done in New York,” said Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Leah Gunn Barrett. “Mass shootings grab our attention as they should. But we must not forget that today another 92 Americans will die from guns and tomorrow will be the same unless we do something."