LGBT groups condemn Fla. high school shooting

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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LGBT advocacy groups on Wednesday condemned the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left at least 17 people dead and more than a dozen others injured.

The Pride Center in Wilton Manors, which is located roughly 20 miles southeast of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Wednesday said in a Facebook post that “at least 17 families and countless loved ones face unspeakable tragedy tonight in Broward County.”

“Our hearts break for the students, teachers, administrators and families at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” reads the post. “May they find comfort and strength in the face of untold loss.”

Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, and the Human Rights Campaign are among the other groups that echoed the Pride Center.

“Equality Florida joins our fellow Floridians and the nation in grieving the 17 lives taken and those injured in yet another school mass shooting,” said Equality Florida in a statement.

A 19-year-old man who was expelled from the high school has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Authorities say the alleged gunman used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he legally bought in the shooting.

President Trump is expected to visit the high school in the coming days.

Wednesday’s shooting took place less than four months after a gunman killed 26 people and injured 20 others inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

A gunman on Oct. 1 killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others when he opened fire during a country music festival in Las Vegas. A gunman killed 49 people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016.

The Pulse nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until the incident in Las Vegas.

Wednesday’s mass shooting has once again renewed calls for gun control.

“We remain as deeply committed today as we were two years ago, in the aftermath of the massacre at Pulse, to the fight for common sense gun legislation,” said Equality Florida in its statement.

“We are not helpless,” it added. “We do not have to be hostages to special interests who believe that weapons of war should be available to everyone, anywhere, all the time. We can and we must stop this carnage with laws that are proven to make a difference. This violence will only stop when we decide to stand up to a handful of voices with undue influence. The time has come to make common sense gun safety legislation a litmus test for anyone asking for our votes.”

The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a political action committee that formed after the Pulse nightclub massacre, pointed out that Wednesday’s shooting is the 18th such incident at a school this year.

“We need elected leaders who are committed to public safety,” said the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence on its Twitter page. “If they are not up to the task, it is up to us to vote them out of office. Our children are counting on us to keep them safe from harm.”

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