U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, participated with colleagues including Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to attempt to force the Senate Republican leadership to allow votes on provisions that would make it harder for terrorists to legally purchase weapons and keep military-style weapons out of the hands of civilians. Cardin also discussed the work being done to address the “root causes of hate in our society” in the wake of the terror attack in Orlando that especially targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“We have taken some positive steps in trying to isolate terrorists and make sure law enforcement has all the tools they need. And we have done a lot of work to protect vulnerable communities to make sure that we stand for all rights for all people,” Cardin said.
“The LGBT community feels particularly threatened by what happened. They were victims in Orlando. … I would like to get the connection here on the gun issues, but I think it’s important to point out that we have worked very hard to support the LGBT community and to make it clear that the rights of all people in this country are going to be protected. We have celebrated the Supreme Court decision that recognized [gay] marriage. We have celebrated actions within our military to open up full participation by the LGBT community,” he said. “We were particularly pleased with the recent confirmation of Eric Fanning [Secretary of the Army, the first openly gay head of any service in the U.S. military]. We have seen some progress in regards to the LGBT community in America and globally. Several countries — Malta, Ireland, Thailand, Libya and Vietnam — have passed laws to protect transgender individuals. Ukraine passed a law that repealed one of its workforce discrimination laws against the LGBT community. These are all important steps taken to try to keep not only our community, but also the global community, safe from these type of hate acts.
“I noticed that in the Orlando tragedy, one of the weapons that was used was an assault weapon, a military-style weapon. I must tell you that in my observations in Maryland, I don’t know too many people who need to have that type of weapon in order to go hunting in my state or to keep themselves safe. It seems to be a weapon of choice by those who want to commit crimes,” said Cardin.
“There is no one problem that we have to deal with; there are multiple issues involved here. It seems to me that the one option that should be off the table is doing nothing. The American people are demanding, and rightly so, that we take action now to make our communities safer,” he said. “They quite frankly don’t understand the inaction of this body, and quite frankly, I don’t understand the inaction of this body.”