Last night, hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at a vigil at the historic Stonewall Inn to mourn the lives lost in Orlando over the weekend and express a heartbroken but invincible pride. We asked just one question of the attendees: what would you like to say to the NRA, to lawmakers, and to the candidates for president about gun violence? These are their responses.
"It’s crazy that we don’t have a more structured system of how we divvy out these weapons of destruction. And people are losing their lives, losing family members — because the people who are using these guns want to take someone’s life just because they think that they can. And that’s something that needs to stop."
"Honestly right now, my friends are dead, I don’t really give a shit about giving a message to anybody. My issue isn’t the guns, my issue is that we live in a country where people who are willing to kill countless people indiscriminately can get a gun. I have no problem with the guns. I have a problem with the people who can get the guns. The people who killed my friends can just get guns in this country and that’s not okay. That needs to change."
"I don’t know how many times we have to say it, but enough is really enough. How many people have to die before conservatives in this country surrender this ridiculous idea that there is an individual right to own an assault weapon? To own guns that have clips, that have 16 bullets in them? It’s nonsense. It’s an ideological position that as far as I'm concerned has no basis in our law, and does not have a basis in our constitution. But the problem is, how many times do we have to say this? Congress just won’t listen, and in particular the Republican Party won’t listen."
Danielle Spadola & Jessica Bonfondeo
"It’s about taking away safe spaces from people. I feel like a lot of these places represent safety to us. Especially [for] two young girls who don’t necessarily fit the profile, we get a lot of harassment. We go to places like this to feel safe, and to have that shaken was scary. At that point we were both at a loss, like what do you do? Everyone’s an expert during a tragedy. We try not to be."
"This is happening over and over again in all different types of communities, and we need to have legislation to really have more gun control. I can’t even be eloquent, it just seems so obvious."
Brent Radeke & Ramon Radeke
"As much as people want to call it an act of radical terrorism, it really starts here. This issue was bred here in America, and it was bred a long time ago. And really, that’s the thing. We’re so quick to jump to judgment and to look elsewhere before we take a moment to clean house. We need laws now, we need change. There’s been too much blood, there have been too many deaths, it just needs to change."
"The technology has changed. If I was to send a message, it’d be to consider that in a contemporary world, things need to change. And I would highly, highly recommend that the second amendment would change. that’s really it. It’s ridiculous. How do we even have these issues anymore? With people dying, you would think that people would want to change something."
"I work in nightlife; I'm actually a bouncer at nightclubs. So I can easily get a gun by taking a course. It’s very easy to get a security license. But I feel like it should be stricter, in terms of gun control and getting a gun. We just celebrated Brooklyn pride this past weekend. We can't live in fear just because this happened. We have to show them that we are not gonna live in fear just because they're trying to scare us and target us. Its not gonna happen. We’re a strong community and I feel like we’ll get past this. We just have to celebrate the lives that were taken away, and remember them."
Stanley Shavers III
"I want to know how much. What’s the price tag? How much did the NRA pay you to keep quiet, or fight in order to be on their side? How much is a life worth? What’s the going rate? That’s what I really want to know, at this point. Do we have enough money in the community to pay you off? I just don’t understand. What’s it going to take? I thought elementary school aged children would’ve been enough, but maybe this will be the period at the end of a very, very, very long and much needed sentence."