Pulse survivor slams pro-gun advocates in wake of deadly Texas shooting: ‘We do not have to sit by’

Brandon Wolf activist

Gun reform activist Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, has hit back at a former Fox News anchor after she criticised advocates of gun control.

Wolf, who survived the gay nightclub shooting which claimed the lives of 49 people, retaliated after TV host Megyn Kelly tweeted on Sunday (7 May) that gun control campaigners had “failed to effect change” and should look at “other solutions” to solve the problem of gun violence in the US.

There have been 208 mass shootings in the US so far this year, with 647 in total in 2022, data by the Gun Violence Archive shows.

Kelly, whose show was axed by NBC in 2018 after she suggested that it was fine for white people to wear blackface at Halloween, urged gun control activists to “face” the reality that tighter gun restrictions cannot be implemented due to Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which gives citizens the right to bear arms.

Wolf, who currently works as the press secretary for Equality Florida, responded to Kelly’s tweet, writing: “I refuse to believe that dead children on a sidewalk must be the price of admission for being an American, that my best friend’s mutilated body on a nightclub floor is just the way the cookie must crumble.”

On Instagram, the campaigner added: “I refuse to accept this nightmarish experiment as inevitable.”

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Kelly’s tweet, which has racked up more than 10 million views, came the day after yet another mass shooting in the US – this time at a shopping centre in Allen, Texas.

The shooting on Saturday (6 May) resulted in eight deaths, including those of three small children, with seven other people left wounded and in hospital. The gunman, Mauricio Garcia, was fatally shot by police.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the attack is thought to be the second-deadliest mass shooting of 2023. 

US states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence

What Kelly’s post failed to mention is that gun-control advocates do create change.

Data from the Giffords Law Centre indicates that “states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence.” 

The organisation, which tracks and analyses gun legislation in all 50 states, has found that states with strong gun laws experience lower gun-death rates. 

It ranks Texas as one of the worst for gun violence due to its lack of significant gun laws, while California is ranked as one of safest after implementing a number of reforms.

The stats also show that the US, which has a higher rate of gun violence than any other high-income country, has more guns than people, at 393 million.

Speaking to LGBTQ+ charity GLAAD following Kelly’s tweet, Wolf insisted that the US can do better when it comes to turning the tide on gun violence.

“We do not have to serve our children up as sacrifices to the profit-obsessed gun lobby. We do not have to sit by while our neighbourhoods become war zones, content to throw up our hands and refuse to address the common denominators.” 

He added: “The LGBTQ community is under assault. Extremists are wielding the power of government against us while they use fear and intimidation to try [to] force us back into the closet. That reality is making life less safe for us.” 

Wolf pointed out that the LGBTQ+ community has long been demonised but has “forged ahead securing civil rights protections and greater social acceptance than ever before, by refusing to be erased and being unapologetically us”.

He urged Americans to fight against gun violence and to act now to prevent the further loss of life. 

In 2019, Wolf delivered a speech to Congress about the need for common-sense gun legislation. Speaking to the podcast LGBTQ&A in 2021, he insisted that it “isn’t impossible to solve” the deadly problem.

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