Los Angeles City Council members this week eschewed the traditional moment of silence held after tragedies such as this weekend’s mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub, instead choosing to read the names of the 49 victims and calling for action on gun-control laws.
Those killed included “the mother of 11 who beat cancer twice, the brother whose sister drove 12 hours just to say goodbye, the couples who died together, the immigrant from South Africa, the native of Connecticut, and the stories go on and on,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, said before joining his colleague, Mike Bonin, in reading each victim’s name and age.
The victims ranged in age from 18-50 with jobs ranging from barista to accountant, O’Farrell said.
Bonin said the shooting—in which gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando—should be blamed on the country’s “ridiculous obsession with making guns available.”
He expressed weariness at the respectful silences expected after these tragedies, saying that “in this case, silence is abhorrently disrespectful.”
“I have no silence left,” he said. “In this situation, my reaction is anger, frustration, disbelief, and is a call to organize.”
Bonin said he believes the shooting will motivate LGBTQ activists to throw their organizing power behind gun control efforts.
“The LGBT community, I am absolutely confident, is going to be the biggest ally and the biggest shot of adrenaline into the gun control movement this country has ever seen,” he said.
The activists who “chain themselves to the White House and disrupt Congressional hearings because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and because of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), are going to work on this issue” by joining with others who have been calling for gun control laws, Bonin said.
O’Farrell echoed the organizing call, saying that “if the NRA, if the National Shooting Sports Foundation, if the California Rifle and Pistol Association and the gun lobby in general does not think that we’re going to start going after them and those who aid and abet terrorism across the country by supporting mass killing machines and automatic weaponry and the ammunition that feeds them, then they’ve got another thing coming.”
“Orlando is this generation’s Stonewall and it is time to once and for all do all that we can to make sure this carnage gets under control in this great country of ours,” O’Farrell said.
Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association, said the Orlando shooting should not be used as a springboard for politicians to seek over-reaching gun-control laws.
“The response to the violence should be to support legislation and policies that allow for every American to have the chance to protect themselves,” he said. “We cannot continue to let the gun-grabbers use tragedies to push their own agenda without pointing out that it does nothing to increase safety.
“This is why CRPA will not be bullied into giving up the fight to defend our Second Amendment rights,” he said.