Today, Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Members released the following statements in response to this weekend's shooting in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed and 53 more were wounded during an LGBT dance club "Latin Flavor" night. The attack is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
CHC Chairwoman Linda T. Sánchez: "We are heartbroken, devastated, and also outraged with yet another mass shooting. We know that many of the victims in Orlando were young Latinos. This act of terrorism is an affront to everything we stand for as a country, for it is our rich diversity that makes us so special. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus mourns for the victims and their families, and stands with every LGBTQ brother and sister who is now fearful of being who they are. It takes an act of courage to live life openly and this LGBT Pride Month, we fight harder than ever before to ensure that love wins."
CHC First Vice Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham: "Like many friends and neighbors in New Mexico, my first reaction this morning was to question how this act of hate and terror in Orlando could occur just hours after we joined together in Albuquerque for a joyous celebration of love for one another. That celebration of love defines us as Americans, not the hate and terrorism that is meant to divide us. No doubt, we must grieve for the tragic victims of this mass shooting. They were our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, probably celebrating just as we were doing Saturday along Central Avenue. They and their families are in our prayers. I will also take the time, as I continue to contemplate what happened, to reflect back on that celebration of love. I refuse to let terrorism win."
CHC Second Vice Chair Joaquin Castro: "Yesterday, our nation suffered the loss of 50 innocent lives in an abhorrent attack. My prayers are with the families who lost loved ones, the city of Orlando, and everyone in the LGBT community. Love will always prevail over hate, and our freedoms will withstand any terror. In the wake of this tragedy, we must redouble our vigilance and resolve in defending against any threats to our safety and values."
CHC Whip Ruben Gallego: "I am shocked and horrified by this hate-filled and tragic shooting in Orlando. I stand in solidarity with the LGBT community during this difficult time. It is especially egregious that these men and women were attacked at a place they considered a safe haven, free of the hate and judgement some of them experience on a daily basis. There is no place for hate in America. My heart is with those who lost loved ones in this senseless act of violence. But I know that "thoughts and prayers' are never enough and can't bring back those that were lost. It is time for Congress to take serious action to address the epidemic of gun violence that is plaguing our nation."
Congressman José E. Serrano: "My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Orlando and the LGBT community in this difficult time, especially the victims and their families. Although all the details surrounding this tragedy are still emerging, one thing is clear: we have to do more to protect our country and communities from acts of terror and hate. But in the midst of mourning this senseless tragedy, we cannot simply resort to demonizing others. As the LGBT community reminds us: we can't fight hate with hate. Lastly, we also cannot ignore the role that our nation's ineffective gun control laws have played in the tragic mass shootings that have shaken our nation in recent years. It is long past time for Congress to act to reduce gun violence."
Congressman Luis Gutiérrez: "There is anguish and deep sadness across the country when another group of people are lost too young and so senselessly. There are too many guns in too many hands, too much anger, hatred and division, and too much slaughter in Orlando, Charleston, Ft Hood, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, and every single week in Chicago and cities and towns across the country. No one should have access to assault rifles, but Congress refuses to act."
Senator Robert Menendez: "My heart breaks for the families and the victims of this horrific tragedy. This targeting of our Latino LGBT brothers and sisters is an attack on us all, and we stand united condemning this senseless and monstrous attack. This was not just an act of terror, but an act of hate. It is too easy in this country for individuals who want to do us harm to get their hands on high-powered, military-style assault weapons. We need a frank, honest debate about our country's lax gun laws. We, as a nation, can no longer sit idly by while our loved ones are needlessly slaughtered."
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard: "I join my fellow Americans in mourning this despicable act of terror. Orlando, the City Beautiful, is today a city shattered by unthinkable loss. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the LGBT community, and everyone touched by this tragedy. As we mourn, we must resolve to meet this act of hate with unity, love, and strength. We must stand up for the dignity of every American, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or religion. And we must finally take sensible action to protect innocent Americans from the plague of gun violence."
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez: "The attack in Orlando is an affront to our nation's values of tolerance, inclusiveness and love for one another. We must all stand together with Orlando in condemning this act and making clear that we will not let hate win."
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa: "I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of the victims in the horrific shooting that occurred this Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida. This incident is the deadliest in U.S. history with 50 lives lost and dozens more wounded. I also want share my gratitude to local law enforcement and first responders who answered the call to action in order to prevent further loss and investigators who continue their due diligence to get to the bottom of this situation. No person regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or partner preference should have to suffer or be targeted for who they are. Love is love, and love conquers hate."
Congressman Raúl Grijalva: "My heart breaks for the victims of last night's attack, for their families and for those in hospitals now facing a long road to recovery. This was an attack on the LGBT community during Pride Month at an iconic location for the community. Nothing could be more heinous. As our nation comes to grips with the fact that this was the single worst shooting attack in US history, I urge everyone to give law enforcement the time they need to do their jobs, and the families impacted the privacy they need in this unimaginably difficult time."
Congressman Ben Ray Luján: "Our nation grieves in the wake of a terrible act of terror that left 49 people dead and 53 people injured. As we continue to learn more behind the motivation for this heinous crime, there is no doubt that it was rooted in hatred. In a month when our country celebrates the contributions of the LGBT community, this attack is particularly distressing. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who were killed or injured, as well as with the people of Orlando and the LGBT community."
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan: "The people of the Mariana Islands, like Americans everywhere, are horrified by this senseless act of violence and the loss of so many lives. We share the feeling that the easy availability of guns - especially guns designed for military combat - is part of the reason for what happened in Orlando and happens all too often around our nation."
Congressman Tony Cárdenas: "Those of us who love this country and welcome the differences of others; those of us who live our lives peacefully and work to make this nation a better place -- WE are stronger than any act of hate will ever be. That is why now is the time for us to demand that something change. We can correct course from last night. We can combat the ignorance that pervades the minds of the elected Congressmen and women who don't believe this nation has a gun issue. We can overcome the heartache that targeted acts of violence and hate crimes bring to our communities. Congress must address these issues head-on and find a better solution now."
Congressman Raul Ruiz: "A terrorist attack against any community in the U.S is an attack against all Americans. This mass shooting is absolutely deplorable and I condemn it in the strongest terms. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. Together we mourn and send our prayers to the victims and their families. Together we thank the first responders in the front lines. Together we stand strong against hate crimes of any form, and together we will defeat terrorism and eliminate ISIS."
Congressman Pete Aguilar: "Americans should feel safe in their communities and be able to live without fear that terrorists could strike their neighborhoods at any moment because guns are too accessible to those who want to kill. We can and we must do better -- for Orlando, for San Bernardino and for us all."
Congresswoman Norma Torres: "We owe it to the victims and their families to have a serious conversation about why mass shootings like the one that took place in Orlando have become all too common in our country and what we can do to prevent them. If we truly want to honor those who lost their lives, we can't be silent or turn to fear and division. We must respond with love, compassion, and action."