Yesterdayâ€™s mass shooting in Orlando was a terrible hate-crime, an attack on our LGBT family, and on the love, diversity, and pluralism that make America great. It left 49 people dead and over 50 more injured. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, the people of Orlando, and the LGBT community.
But thoughts and prayers are not enough. There is an epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence in our country â€“ a phenomenon more or less unique to the United States. Today is the 165thÂ day of 2016, and there have already been 133 mass shootings. This horrific status quo will not change without policy solutions at every level of government.
We do not yet know exactly why this rampage occurred. The shooter had previously expressed hatred for gay people and sympathy with the ISIS terrorist organization. We may never know for sure what his true motive was. What we do know is that in the weeks before he perpetrated this attack, the shooter legally purchased an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon with the sole purpose of inflicting the most harm on the most people in the shortest amount of time. These military weapons do not belong on our streets, plain and simple.Â New York State has banned them, but Congress must act to ban the sale of assault rifles to civilians throughout our country.
In the wake of this horrific attack there will be those, both at home and abroad, who seek to sow fear, division, and hatred. There will also be those who seek to sow doubt and prevent effective action.Â I urge my fellow New Yorkers to respond instead with love and solidarity, and by pushing for smart, effective action to stop the ongoing tragedy of senseless gun violence on our soil.