Major LGBT-rights group urges steps to curb gun violence

AP News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:22 PM
Major LGBT-rights group urges steps to curb gun violence

NEW YORK (AP) — The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBT-rights organization, on Friday called for several measures to curb gun violence in the aftermath of the attack that killed 49 patrons and staff at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The HRC endorsed steps to limit access to assault-style rifles, expand background checks, and limit access to firearms for suspected terrorists and people with a history of domestic abuse.

A resolution on the gun measures was approved Thursday evening at a special meeting of the HRC's board of directors. The organization said it was the first time in its 36-year history that it had called such a meeting to address a policy matter that extended far beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The HRC's president, Chad Griffin, blamed the massacre on "a toxic combination of two things: a deranged, unstable individual who had been conditioned to hate (LGBT) people, and easy access to military-style guns."

The safety of LGBT people "depends on our ability to end both the hatred toward our community and the epidemic of gun violence that has spiraled out of control," Griffin said.

The HRC noted that according to the latest FBI statistics, more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It also repeated its call for Congress to pass an LGBT-inclusive federal nondiscrimination law, and for legislatures to do likewise at the state level. At present, only 18 states have comprehensive statewide laws banning discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equality California, a major LGBT-rights group in California, also called for new gun-safety measures on Friday, urging action at both the federal and state level. It endorsed a package of bills in the California legislature, including measures that would require federal licensing of ammunition vendors, ban possession of large-capacity magazines, fund a center for research into firearm-related violence, and require anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to notify law enforcement within five days of the loss.

Despite the widespread dismay over Sunday's attack in Orlando by a gunman armed with an assault rifle, there is no indication as yet that tougher federal gun-control measures are forthcoming.

In the Senate, a filibuster by Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut did little to break the stalemate in Congress over guns, with both sides unwilling to budge and Republicans standing firm against any new legislation opposed by the National Rifle Association.

President Barack Obama, who visited the victims' families in Orlando, called on lawmakers to act.

"Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense," Obama said.