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I’m still in shock.

How could our happy town be the site of the largest mass shooting in American history? Why was our proud gay community – a fundamental part of our culture – the target?

It’s beyond comprehension.

Pulse is more than a nightclub – it is a central gathering place for Orlando’s LGBT community. As President Obama said: “It is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.”

At Pulse, Saturday is Latin Night. But instead of being a safe place for gay Latinos to come together, dance, and be with friends, it became a nightmare last Saturday.

In the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, Amanda and I spent the day volunteering with One Blood where over 600 heroes donated blood. The outpouring of support from people across Central Florida has been inspiring, and it shows why this community is so special.

This was an attack on all of us. Here in Central Florida, we embrace our gay brothers and sisters. We love the diversity of our community. Our neighbors are of every race, religion, and nationality, and we are proud of it. We celebrate it. That’s what makes us Orlando Strong.

In Congress, I’m going to fight with everything I’ve got to put an end to this crisis of mass shootings and to stand up to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and discrimination.

I will fight for a ban on gun sales to people on the federal terrorism watch list and the “No Fly” list. We don’t know all the details yet, but such a ban could have potentially prevented this shooter from buying guns. I will fight to close loopholes that make it easier for dangerous people to get guns. I will fight to pass the Equality Act and strengthen federal hate crimes laws.

No single law can prevent every mass shooting. But there are smart things we can do to make them less likely – and for me, doing nothing is not an option.

We are Orlando Strong and we stand together.


Posted on June 13, 2016.

Meet Darren

Darren Soto is an accomplished lawyer, legislator, environmentalist, and proud progressive representing the diverse, hardworking people of Central Florida in Congress. Darren has been a champion for Florida's working families in the Florida House and Senate and will continue the fight in Congress. FacebookTwitter

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