U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the only openly LGBT senator, joined her Democratic colleagues in pushing for stronger gun control today, pointing out that multiple factors caused the Orlando massacre and all of them need to be addressed.
Politicians often fall into the habit of attributing such tragedies to a single cause, thinking “let’s only talk about this as a terrorist incident or let’s only talk about this as a hate crime or let’s only talk about this in terms of gun violence,” Baldwin said on the Senate floor. “This is all of the above, and we have to come together. We have to be united. We have to be strong in order to respond.”
Senate Democrats shut down other business in the chamber today to fiibuster on additional gun control measures, with more than 30 senators taking turns speaking to hold the floor for more than 10 hours. The focus is on legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California “that would allow the attorney general to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists, including those on watch lists, if there is ‘reasonable belief’ the weapons may be used to carry out an attack,” as USA Today reports.
“Now, I’m not saying had this been in law a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, that this wouldn’t have happened,” Baldwin told her colleagues. “But our silence is unacceptable, and we must act. We are better than this as a country.”
She also said she would support additional funding for the Department of Justice to prevent and investigate hate crimes, and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s proposal to ban gun sales to people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime.
Baldwin, a lesbian, added that she spoke as “a member of the LGBT community,” and noted that LGBT Americans have made great progress in the past few decades but more needs to be done.
She went on to read the names of the Orlando victims and offer information about them. “The time to act is now, and our thoughts and prayers … are important but not enough,” she concluded. Watch video from C-SPAN below.