Today is the third anniversary of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. 49 people were killed, and another 53 were injured, when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle inside the gay nightclub in the early hours of June 12, 2016. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in the history of the United States, a title which now belongs to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. The attack on Pulse remains the deadliest incident of violence against the LGBTQ+ community in America. Earlier this morning at 2:02 a.m., exactly three years to the minute from the time of the first shot, dozens of people gathered outside of Pulse to remember those who were lost. At noon today, church bells rang 49 times in over 600 churches worldwide to commemorate the life of each person who lost their life. This remembrance comes as people around the globe celebrate June as Pride Month.
On the night of the shooting, Pulse was hosting a Latino-themed night, which was frequented by Orlando’s Latinx community. Puerto Rican drag queen and Rupaul contest Kenya Michaels was scheduled to perform. As news of the shooting broke and amidst speculation that the gunman was motivated by or affiliated with the Islamic State, many media outlets were criticized for neglecting to report that the majority of the victims of the attack were members of the Latinx community and other LGBTQ+ communities of color.
In an effort to preserve the site as an LGBTQ+ landmark, US Representatives from Florida Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy announced earlier this week that they had introduced legislation to make the Pulse site a national memorial. The owner of Pulse, Barbara Poma, had previously announced in May 2017 the creation of the onePULSE Foundation in order to independently fund a memorial site and museum. The national designation proposed by Soto and Murphy would allow the nonprofit created by Poma to maintain control of the memorial even if it gains the national distinction.
Many of the Democratic candidates for President have honored the anniversary of the tragedy, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay major-party candidate for the presidency. In an email to supporters, Buttigieg noted the intersectional identities of those affected by the attack. “Pulse wasn’t an attack on just one community — it was an attack on LGBTQ Americans, Latinx Americans, and Black Americans," he wrote. "It was an attack on people who look like me, and an attack on people who look nothing like me. It was an attack on all of us. It was an attack on individuals expressing their sexuality, their heritage, their gender, and their freedom.” Buttigieg, along with other candidates, also called for common-sense gun safety law reform, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed its first major gun reform legislation in over twenty years. The bill, which is unlikely to pass in the Senate, would require background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the internet. A day later, the House also passed a similar, more moderate bill. This bill closed what many have called the “Charleston loophole,” which allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three days. It’s named as such because it was this loophole that allowed the perpetrator of the Charleston Church Shooting, in which nine people were murdered, to purchase his gun despite his criminal record.
The last piece of major federal gun safety legislation that was passed was the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1994, which mandated federal background checks on firearm purchases in the United States. Many attribute this recent push for gun reform to the “Parkland affect,” citing the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 14 students and 3 staff members were killed, and the student-organized March for Our Lives demonstrations that followed.
Social media has been flooded today with those remembering the victims, highlighting acts of violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community, and calling for gun reform.
The third annual remembrance ceremony for the victims will be held in Orlando tonight from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. outside the club and will be streamed live on the Orlando local wftv.com, the WFTV news app, and Facebook Live.
In remembrance, below are the names of the victims of the Pulse shooting:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, 37 years old
Luis Sergio Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old