Pride Fund To End Gun Violence founder and executive director Jason Lindsay remembers in detail the moment he decided to start the organization.

“It all began the day of Pulse,” Lindsay recalls. “I was watching the news like so many other people and saw the tragedy unfold and a pivotal moment was seeing a mom, Christine Leinonen, who was waiting to find out whether her son had survived or not, and she pleaded in a clip that’s been played over and over again asking for somebody to please do something about the assault weapons.”

Lindsay is very familiar with guns, particularly the style of weapon most commonly used in mass shootings like Pulse.

“I served in the army for 14 years. I served in Iraq in a combat zone, carrying an assault rifle that is very similar to what you can buy on the street today,” Lindsay says. “They’re different, but they’re similar. The lethality is exactly the same. They use the same bullets, just different firing mechanisms. That’s the only difference.”

The gun control debate escalated again after the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and teachers dead. Lindsay and his team at the Pride Fund visited Orlando a month after that horrific event to kick off efforts to elect legislators during the 2018 mid-terms who will support and act on common sense gun reform.

“The thing that the [National Rifle Association] does extremely well, and why they’ve succeeded, is they know how to mobilize their supporters and the amount of money they put into politics,” Lindsay says. “In 2016 alone, they spent $53 million to influence federal elections. So we, as a brand new organization, said okay let’s organize first as a Political Action Committee, where we can work directly in politics.”

The Pride Fund To End Gun Violence has now grown into an organization with more than 100,000 LGBTQ+ volunteers and supporters around the country who are demanding elected officials take action.

“We’re only 19 months old, and we don’t have a billionaire who’s some super-funder in the back, pulling the strings or giving us a lot of money. This was a completely ground-up, grassroots movement, built on small dollar donations,” Lindsay says.

Pride Fund has already endorsed several candidates in Central Florida, across the state and in key competitive races throughout the country.

“[U.S. Rep.] Stephanie Murphy is going to be in the top five most competitive races again in 2018, so we’ve got to protect her,” Lindsay says. “Her race is going to be critical and everybody’s got to be ‘all Stephanie Murphy, all the time’ down here.”

Pride Fund has also thrown their support behind openly gay State Rep. David Richardson who is running for Congress in South Florida, as well as local candidates for the Florida House Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is running for re-election in District 49, and Anna Eskamani, running in District 47.

Outside of Florida, Lindsay says the community needs to be focused on helping keep the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin in office and getting Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock elected out.

“Tammy Baldwin is a huge one, she’s the only gay U.S. senator. There is a huge amount of outside money from the Koch brothers going against her, so we have to protect her, and Barbara Comstock needs to be the number one target to get out of office,” Lindsay says.

Comstock assumed office in 2015 and has since accepted $170,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA, according to Lindsay.

“A lot of people are angry about gun violence in this country right now and want to know what to do,” Lindsay says. “Go to our website, PrideFund.org, and sign up to volunteer. You can find out about rallies in your area, but really get involved, that’s the number one thing.”

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