Pulse Survivor Responds To Florida School Shooting: “It Hurts So Much… These Are Kids”

"I never want anyone to experience the pain we've experienced," says Brandon Wolf.

In the wake of this week’s deadly shooting at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School, a Pulse massacre survivor is sharing his story on HRC’s Twitter.

Brandon Wolf, a gay man and gun-reform activist, lost his best friend, Drew, and Drew’s boyfriend, Juan, during the 2016 attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, where 49 people, most of whom were LGBT, were senselessly gunned down.

“[Drew] was my once-in-a lifetime person,” Wolf wrote. “He was there through thick and thin and taught me how to love myself… But, in an instant, Drew, Juan, and 47 other beautiful souls were extinguished in a fusillade of bigotry and gun fire.”

Since the Pulse attack, Wolf has launched an LGBT advocacy group, The Dru Project, and has spoken publicly about his loss, including a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention with Drew’s mother, Christine Leinonen.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Pulse shooting occurred just 20 months ago, he reminds us. “When it happened, [it] was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. That changed [in October] when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas, killing 58 people.”

According to reports, there have been at least 18 school shootings in the U.S. since the start of 2018 alone.

That number will continue to rise, says Wolf, unless lawmakers take action: “It hurts so much to see coverage out of Parkland,” he wrote. “These are kids.”

“People are dying,” he added. “Kids are dying. How many more lives lost, families broken, dreams shattered can we take? Lives are on the line… I would know.”

“In one minute, a legally-purchased assault weapon fired 30 rounds—13 of them murdered my friends at Pulse,” he added. “There is an urgent need for common sense gun safety laws.”

Sarah Chadwick, a lesbian student at Stoneman Douglas, lashed out at President Trump on Twitter, telling him to leave his “thoughts and prayers” behind in favor of gun reform.

“Prayers won’t fix this,” she tweeted, “but gun control will prevent it from happening again.”

Christine Leinonen also spoke out about the Stoneman Douglas shooting, telling News 6 Orlando that the issue “is solvable.”

“We need to have an honest conversation about gun violence today and every day,” she said. “[We need to] elect strong Democrats to Congress [who will] put back the federal ban on assault weapons.”

Additionally, she advocated for responsible gun ownership.

“Parents can keep guns out of their homes. If they have weapons, keep them locked away and inaccessible to your children. If you’re in a home with drug use, alcohol use, or domestic violence… don’t keep guns around.”

Wolf provided resources for those wanting to support gun control reform, including numbers to contact local representatives about the issue.

The Broward Education Foundation has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the families of victims from the attack on Stoneman Douglas High School.

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