Gay actor Wilson Cruz spoke alongside LGBTQ+ ally and actress Melissa Joan Hart at a Wednesday congressional roundtable to discuss the GOSAFE Act, a bill to prevent gun violence.
“I am a nephew and a family member devastated by gun violence. My aunt, Brenda Marquez McCool, was murdered at the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting while she placed her body between the shooter and her son, who survived. I’m also here as a citizen who’s exhausted,” Cruz said, speaking with an emotional quiver in his voice.
Marquez, a 49-year-old mother of 11, died after pushing her son out of the shooter’s line of fire. The June 2016 massacre in Orlando, Florida killed 49 people and injured 53 others. It also led to the creation of the group Gays Against Guns, a group that highlights the disproportionate effects of gun violence on LGBTQ+ people.
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“This bill calls for a ban on weapons that were literally created in order to end human life, to destroy human bodies,” he continued. “If we claim to be a society that values life, the very least we can do is pass this bill and save more human lives by removing these instruments of terror.”
The GOSAFE Act, introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NV), would restrict access to certain semi-automatic firearms, large-capacity magazines, and machine gun conversion devices that make guns deadlier.
“The GOSAFE Act will force would-be mass shooters to reload their guns more frequently — giving people time to flee and law enforcement time to arrive on the scene – while also maintaining law enforcement access to regulated firearms, so law enforcement continues to have the tools they need to respond to a mass shooting event,” Sen. Heinrich wrote of his bill.
Hart, who is known for her roles in the TV comedies Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, told the roundtable, “I didn’t prepare a statement today. Because my statement has been prepared for me. On March 27, my son survived the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.”
“As a mother of a mass shooting survivor, living in a community of victims and survivors, we’ve experienced firsthand the devastation of gun violence and death,” Hart said, noting that the 2023 shooting left six people dead, including three 9-year-olds.
“I’m here today because as a conservative family, and as lifelong gun owners, mother of a mass shooting survivor who’s also a hunter who has his own guns, and a family of hunters who knows how to properly handle weapons. I’m here today to lend my voice to this cause. I’m begging for change. I’m begging for our children’s lives,” Hart said.
LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to be victims of gun violence than their cisgender and straight peers, according to the firearm reform group Sandy Hook Promise.
GAG annually honors the victims of the Pulse shooting. While advocating for national firearm regulation reforms, GAG has also targeted businesses that have ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the influential gun manufacturer lobby that has largely prevented any congressional action on gun reform.