Lawmakers mourn the 49 people killed by a gunman five years after the Pulse nightclub shooting

·3 min read
orlando pulse nightclub shooting memorial
This Monday, July 11, 2016, photo shows a makeshift memorial outside the Pulse nightclub, a month after the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. Associated Press/John Raoux
  • It's been five years since a gunman killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Florida.

  • Lawmakers on Saturday mourned the victims and vowed to continue fighting for gun reform.

  • Years after the shooting, Florida has still not made any drastic changes to its gun control laws, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Saturday marks the five-year anniversary of the fatal shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Florida.

In commemoration of the event, the Senate earlier this week unanimously passed legislation designating the gay club a national memorial. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden to sign.

Lawmakers over the weekend continued to mourn the 49 victims.

"It has been five years but it feels like yesterday," Rep. Val Demings of Florida said in a statement. "Today I am thinking of the 49 who we lost-49 human beings, 49 dreams, 49 futures, 49 families missing a loved one. I am thinking of the survivors who still need our fullest support as they work through physical and mental wounds."

The Pulse shooting on June 12, 2016, stands as the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history. Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, killing 49 and injuring dozens of others. Police responding to 911 calls at the club killed Mateen.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Twitter that the state "honors the memories of those who were murdered on one of the darkest days in Florida's history."

Some lawmakers on Saturday went further than mourning and recognition of the shooting, and reiterated a call for gun reform.

"Today, I remember the lives lost and forever changed, and I again call on the Senate to bring our gun safety legislation to a vote," Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Scott Peters of California echoed Spanberger's call for action. "We must continue to condemn all forms of hatred & demand life-saving gun reform," he said.

Human-rights and anti-gun organizations, however, say lawmakers aren't doing enough to enact gun control in the wake of the shooting's anniversary.

"It has been 1,826 days since this tragedy, yet nothing has changed," the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing LGBT rights, wrote on Twitter early Saturday.

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Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control measures, said the organization vows "to continue fighting for a world free from gun violence."

About a year after the Pulse shooting, at the time the deadliest in US history, a gunman opened fire from a hotel room window in Las Vegas, killing 58 people attending an outdoor musical festival and wounding hundreds of others.

Despite continued calls from nonprofits like Everytown for Gun Safety, gun control laws in Florida have not been drastically addressed since Pulse, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

A Florida state legislator has brought bills banning assault-style rifles but couldn't get past the GOP-controlled legislature, for example.

"We've got problems in Tallahassee because we appear to be going in the opposite direction," State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith told the Sentinel. "We have not been given a single hearing by the majority party, even if symbolic. They refuse to put this issue on the agenda. [But] the issue is not going away."

Biden in a statement posted Saturday echoed lawmakers' calls to pass gun reform legislation.

"It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that," he said. "It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as "red flag" laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers' immunity from liability."

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