(WASHINGTON, DC, June 14, 2016)—Following the deadliest shooting in American history on Sunday morning at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, national leaders have released an open letter condemning hatred and gun violence, and calling for commonsense change that makes our communities safer from gun violence.
The full letter is below:
Dear Fellow Americans:
We write to you in shock and grief—and to ask for your help.
Many of you reading this letter know our names. You’ve opened emails from us, called on our leaders to enact responsible change with us, worshipped with us, wept with us, knocked on doors with us. We have relied on the strength and energy of individual Americans to help achieve the goals we all work toward—from women’s rights to civil rights to LGBTQ rights to worker’s rights to veterans’ rights.
Today, we are coming together not as individuals, but as one voice to condemn the violence and hatred that reared its hideous head in Orlando. We call on the powerful advocates who have known both the debilitation of hatred and the tragedy of gun violence—be it public violence or private, a mass shooting or a stray bullet, murder or suicide—to join with us in condemning the hatred and gun violence that threatens not only our families, but who we are as a country.
We’ve seen too much in the past twelve months: from Americans murdered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, to labor union members killed at a holiday lunch in San Bernardino. Young and old gathered together in prayer in Charleston, only to be gunned down in hate. Women—mothers and daughters and sisters—hurt or killed in a relentless drumbeat of domestic violence made deadly by firearms. And now, LGBTQ Americans, celebrating Pride month in the most joyously American of ways—by dancing—hunted like animals. We know that hatred directed toward a person for one reason today will be hatred directed toward someone else for a different reason tomorrow.
Today, we come together to say ENOUGH, and to pledge to stand together against violence and hatred. Our America is one that, despite the odds, is always moving forward toward a more perfect union, celebrating our differences and from them, building strength. We celebrate each other’s labor, love, and patriotism, and together we believe that we have a responsibility to leave a country for our kids and grandkids that is more fair, more just, and safer.
Whether you are young or old, white or black or Latino or Asian or Native American, working in a factory or a field or a call center or a hospital or an elementary school, whether you go to church or temple or a mosque or nothing at all, we are all Americans. We stand for diversity that makes us stronger, and for a belief that we can make our country safer.
It is not written in our Constitution that we must live in fear of each other and of troubled individuals with guns. We can do better. Some states have already made progress—they show us that when we put aside our incidental or momentary differences and stand shoulder to shoulder, we have enormous power.
A famous scholar said hope was made of two powerful ingredients: anger at how things are, and the courage to change them. We will not be driven backwards to live in isolation from one another and in fear of violence. And together, with millions of Americans who share our values of pluralism, liberty, and neighborly care, we will stand strong and work toward a safer nation for all of us.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions
Nihad Awad, National Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations
Cornell Brooks, President & CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
John Feinblatt, President, Everytown For Gun Safety
Kim A. Gandy, President & CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence
Lily Eskelson Garcia, President, National Education Association
Ruth M. Glenn, Executive Director, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign
Dan Gross, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Nicole Hockley, Managing Director, Sandy Hook Promise
IIyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director & CEO, National Black Justice Coalition
Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, President & CEO, Victory Fund & Institute
Janet Murguía, President & CEO, National Council of La Raza
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Katie Ray-Jones, CEO, National Domestic Violence Hotline
Laura Ricketts, Chair of the Board, LPAC
Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO, YWCA USA
Stephanie Schriock, President, EMILY’s List
Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress
Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens
Mary Kay Henry, International President, Service Employees International Union
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers