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In a White House statement on Saturday, June 12, Biden reported staying in touch with the many families of victims and survivors. “In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground,” the president said.
Pulse Nightclub was the site of the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in the country’s history, with 49 people killed and an additional 53 others wounded during the mass shooting on June 12, 2016. A memorial has been in the works for some time, and the design for the tribute was unveiled after a contest in 2019. In a statement at the time, Pulse co-founder and onePulse Foundation CEO Barbara Poma told People that she hoped the memorial would “honor the 49 lives taken and all those affected while also educating visitors and future generations on the profound impact the tragedy had on Orlando, the U.S., and the world.”
When announcing the bill on Saturday, Biden emphasized the ongoing work that needs to be done when it comes to reducing gun violence in the United States, including closing loopholes surrounding background checks, banning assault weapons, and establishing extreme risk or “red flag” laws. The president also acknowledged the ways in which gun violence disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ people, adding, “We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth.”
As Biden noted, there is a long road ahead to combat the epidemic of gun violence. In an interview with CNN, Pulse shooting survivor Brandon Wolf shared that while he is hopeful and optimistic about Biden’s gun reform agenda, he is “existentially exhausted” from the ongoing instances of violence. “I am so tired of statements," he said. "I am so tired of hashtags and thoughts and prayers. I am so tired of archaic senate procedure being used as an excuse to do nothing while people in our communities are dying. …. All I am asking is for the people that we have elected, the people we pay to get things done in Washington D.C. to actually do something.”
Wolf also noted that the grief and loss of his friends is something that he still carries with him, five years later. “The people that I lost, they're still gone tomorrow and the day after that,” he told CNN. “They're still missing faces at my birthday party. There are still empty seats at my dinner table.”
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue