Pulse gay club shooting survivors meet Parkland school shooting survivors
Survivors from two Florida mass shootings had a poignant meeting this week.
Forty-nine people died at Orlando’s Pulse gay club during a horrific mass shooting in June 2016, when a gunman opened fire at the crowd. At the time it was the most deadly mass shooting in recent US history, though it has since been surpassed.
Survivors of the Pulse massacre this week met with students and families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died following a mass shooting last month.
The group of Parkland survivors met with the Pulse survivors during a stop in Orlando, on their journey back to Parkland following speaking engagements.
The two groups stood together as the names of the 66 victims of both mass shootings were read aloud, before the Parkland survivors hung 49 white roses – one for each of the Pulse victims – from the fence surrounding the Pulse site.
Pulse survivors wore shirts that bore the slogan ‘We Will Not Let Hate Win’, while Parkland survivors wore shirts that read ‘Kids First, Politics Second’.
One Pulse survivor said: “We’re here to open our arms and welcome them with love.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said: “We share their grief and their concern. Two years ago, the entire world reached out to us in here in Orlando with thoughts and prayers. We want to pay that back as much as we can.”
Dyer said he supported gun control, telling the Orlando Sentinel: “If the shooter in the case in Parkland had not been able to purchase that weapon during the course of the last two years, he could not have carried out the act that he did.
“I do support a ban on assault weapons moving forward.”
Construction on a temporary memorial at the Pulse site is underway.
Trump claimed: “98 percent of all mass shootings in the United States, since 1950, have taken place in gun-free zones, where guns were not inside the school or, as an example, you take the Pulse Nightclub.
“You had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened.
“Certainly not to the extent it did, where he was just in there shooting and shooting and shooting. And they were defenseless. Just remember that.”
The claim that no-one at the Pulse club was armed is false.
GLAAD noted: “Orlando police officer Adam Gruler was armed and working security at Pulse that night and went into action to stop the gunman. ”
Gruler exchange fire with the gunman at the Pulse shooting, but retreated to call backup when the shooter took hostages.
Trump previously suggested that people going to the club for a night out should have had guns with them.
Speaking at a campaign rally after the shooting, he said: “If some of those great people that were in that club that night had guns strapped to their waist or strapped to their ankle, and if the bullets were going in the other direction, aimed at this guy who was just open target practice, you would’ve had a situation folks, which would have been always horrible, but nothing like the carnage that we all as a people suffered this weekend.”
GLAAD laid into the President for the “lies” about the incident.
The group said: “Donald Trump is continuing to spread lies about the Pulse nightclub shooting and spouting NRA talking points instead of fighting for gun reform that would actually protect marginalized communities that are most targeted by gun violence.”
In the wake of the Parkland shooting Emma González, the President of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, has earned a mass following for her outspoken views on gun control.
González took on the NRA’s Dana Loesch at a CNN townhall on gun control last week.
Addressing Loesch, who has two kids, she said: “I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not.”
“The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?”
Loesch did not directly answer the question. The NRA continues to oppose such legislation.
Cameron Kasky, a senior at the school, recently told CNN host Anderson Cooper – who was also on the ground in Florida after the Orlando massacre – that the time for meaningless words was over.
He said: “There’s a section of this society that will just shrug this off and send their thoughts and prayers, but will march for hours when they have to bake a rainbow wedding cake.”
Kasky was referring to the case currently in the US Supreme Court of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.
He continued: “Everything I’ve heard where ‘We can’t do anything’ and ‘It’s out of our hands, it’s inevitable’ – I think that’s a facade that the GOP is putting up.
“I think that’s what they want us to think. I think that after every shooting, the NRA sends them a memo saying: ‘Send your thoughts and prayers, say let’s not talk about it now, say this happens.’
“This is the only country where this kind of thing happens. I’ve been hearing things from people; they don’t have gun drills the way we do.
“We had to prepare extensively at Stoneman Douglas, and that shocked people. This is something that can be stopped, and this is something that will be stopped.”
The student attacked Republican representatives like anti-LGBT US Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott, who he said appeared to be “the only people who don’t care”.
“This is the time to talk about guns,” he said.
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“Thoughts and prayers are appreciated… but there’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done, and much more that people like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are not doing.
“And it’s scary to think that these are the people who are making our laws, when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart.
“And it feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws,” he added.
He also paid tribute to security guards and staff at the school, including one – football coach Aaron Feis – who gave their life to save students.