Thoughts From Congressman Denny Heck After The Tragedy In Orlando
In the aftermath of the mass killing in Orlando, I found myself uncharacteristically speechless. I couldn't tell if I was completely numb or abjectly sad. Or both.
It has taken a couple of days for me to regain my equilibrium and to begin to form some perspective. Thanks for allowing me to share it with you.
To begin with, this was an unparalleled act of evil and cowardice.
It was also clearly a hate-crime directed against the LGBTQ community. To state the obvious: these are our neighbors, family members and friends deserving of our love and acceptance.
Our collective reaction to this latest tragedy matters. We can take the high road, the road that resolves to channel our shared outrage in a positive, caring, and constructive way. Or we can take the low road and give in to our fears.
Fear is the most unstable and dangerous foundation on which to build. It divides us. It causes us to overreact. Indeed, it will only serve to worsen the problem.
Instead, even in our pain and outrage, we need to be clear-eyed, smart, and resolved.
So what do we do? Where do we go from here? I don't pretend to have a magic answer or an instant fix, but I know where we can start.
We should ensure federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies as well as local first responders have the resources to track and disrupt the flow of extremist propaganda.
We can and must do this while respecting our Constitutional rights. As we have entered the era of the so-called "lone wolf," individuals with twisted minds who are attracted to a twisted ideology, this is the new battlefront.
We should enact sensible gun safety legislation.
Closing the gun show loophole and banning assault weapons are common sense measures. Requiring a follow-up from the intelligence community when an individual on the no-fly list tries to buy a gun is a no-brainer. These steps are supported by a majority of Americans. No, they won't stop all acts of gun violence, but they will prevent some. It's clearly worth it. Congress should do its job.
We should stand up to hate.
Every time we look the other way or turn a deaf ear to a slight or a slur against those different from us, we are incrementally contributing to a cesspool of intolerance and hatred that will continue to spread. It is the job of every one of us to stop this in whatever insidious form it takes. In this month, Gay Pride Month, and in every month, we stand with those in the LGBTQ community.
It will be hard. All of it.
Some may not be achieved as soon as we want. But we owe it to one another to be undeterred by the difficulty ahead. I won't stop trying. I urge you to do the same.
Thank you for listening.